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Issue No. 38 | September 18, 2009

News and Features

New Clinical Trial of Antiretroviral-based HIV Prevention Strategies for Women Now Under Way

"A new, large-scale clinical trial is examining whether antiretroviral medications normally used to treat HIV infection can also prevent HIV infection in women when applied as a vaginal gel or taken as oral tablets once daily.

"The study, called Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (VOICE) or MTN-003, will involve up to 5,000 HIV-uninfected women at risk for HIV infection in four African countries. The trial will test the safety and efficacy of two different HIV prevention strategies: an investigational microbicide gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir, and oral tablets containing tenofovir or a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine known by the brand name Truvada. The tablets would be taken prior to exposure in an approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. Testing a microbicide and PrEP in the same trial will enable scientists to directly compare the two strategies in terms of their safety and acceptability.

"Notably, the VOICE study is the first efficacy study of an investigational microbicide in which participants apply the gel once daily rather than shortly before sexual intercourse. If found effective, this approach would allow participants to choose whether to use the gel in association with sexual activity or at another time of day, permitting greater privacy and convenience of use."

Today is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

"HIV/AIDS began its deadly course in the United States mostly as a disease of young men, but today the epidemic touches people of all ages, including adults aged 50 and older. On September 18, the first National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, we pause to recognize the importance of preventing HIV infection in this age group and understanding and addressing the unique health effects of the virus on older Americans.

"Thanks to the advent of potent, multi-drug therapy against HIV in the mid-1990s, many HIV-infected Americans are living into their 50s and well beyond. Also, while the majority of new HIV infections are in younger Americans, individuals 50 years of age and older accounted for approximately 10 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2006. As a consequence of these trends, approximately one quarter of HIV-infected adults in the United States in 2007 were at least 50 years old."