In a South Africa study on 889 females, a microbicide gel spiked with the AIDS drug tenofovir, lowered the risk of HIV infection by 50% after one year of use and 39% after 2.5 years, compared to a gel that contained no medicine.
Results of the study will be displayed Tuesday at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna. The research was published online Monday by the journal Science.
Even partial protection is a breakthrough and the gel also cut in half the chances of getting HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes.
Gilead Sciences Inc. has licensed the rights to produce the gel, royalty-free, for the 95 poorest countries in the world.
To be licensed in ” first world ” USA, a gel or cream to prevent HIV infection may need to be at least 80 percent effective.