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April 5, 1995

Scientists Zero In on New HIV Microbicides

JAMA. 1995;273(13):979-980. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520370017003

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AFTER YEARS of clinical and political neglect, basic scientists have some promising news about AIDS prevention for women.

A handful of researchers who presented findings at the recent conference on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in women in Washington, DC, offered a new look at microbicides intended to protect women from infection without the aid or consent of their sexual partners. (See also p 982.)

Women's health advocates stress the need for alternatives to condoms, not because they leak or break too frequently but because they aren't used often enough. They also acknowledge the need for noncontraceptive methods of infection prevention.

Investigators are taking several approaches. Some are studying compounds that may block infection of vaginal or cervical epithelial cells. Others are evaluating temperature-sensitive gels that might disperse infection-fighting drugs in the female genital tract. Even nonoxynol 9, the spermicide once ballyhooed but soon discredited as an anti-HIV agent, may get

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