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Vaginal gel lowers women risk of catching herpes

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th October 2014 01:29 PM

The vaginal gel, whose trial included Uganda, has produced exciting results, announced in Cape Town, South Africa

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The vaginal gel, whose trial included Uganda, has produced exciting results, announced in Cape Town, South Africa

By Hilary Bainemigisha
 

The vaginal gel, whose trial included Uganda, has produced exciting results, announced here in Cape Town, South Africa. According to results of a study analysis done by Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), the ARV tenofovir, which was tried on women to see if it could stop them from HIV infection, reduces women’s risk of catching genital herpes (HSV-2) by 46%. The results were announced today Oct 28 during the HIV Research for Prevention conference in Cape Town.

During that trial, named CAPRISA 004, researchers wanted to see if a tenofovir gel, when applied into the vagina before and after sex, can help a woman to avoid HIV infection. But many women in the study did not use the gel. They told lies that they did and so, the study’s primary results, which were reported in March 2013, showed 39% success.

In the later analysis of the blood samples that would be taken from participants during trial visits, they realised that women were telling lies. Very few actually used the gel. But in women who used gel regularly, the risk of acquiring herpes was reduced by 42%.

Researchers from the US funded MTN told scientists in Cape Town that the new discovery provided additional evidence that tenofovir gel could potentially help in preventing herpes, one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections affecting sexually active women in sub-Saharan Africa.

So far HSV-2 genital herpes has no cure. Women are especially susceptible to infection because it is more easily transmitted from an infected man to his female sex partner than from a woman to a man. Because HSV-2 infection also greatly enhances the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV, a product that protects against HSV-2 could have an important public health impact.

“The results were based on an analysis of data involving more than 500 women in the VOICE trial,” Prof. Jeanne Marrazzo from the University of Washington, said as she presented the results on behalf of the VOICE study team.

VOICE – Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic – was designed to test the safety and effectiveness of different ARV approaches used daily for preventing HIV among 5,029 women from 15 sites in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

However, the study of 889 women in South Africa found that tenofovir gel also reduced the risk of HSV-2 by 51%.

Women who used the gel regularly were 46”% less likely to acquire HSV-2 compared to women who seldom or never used the gel (who had no detectable drug in their blood samples). In statistics, 46% is considered significant.

Vaginal gel lowers women risk of catching herpes

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