Vaginal gel might prevent HIV hours after exposure - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Vaginal gel might prevent HIV hours after exposure

Updated: March 12, 2014 02:13 PM
The HIV virus (© iStockphoto.com / Sebastian Kaulitzki) The HIV virus (© iStockphoto.com / Sebastian Kaulitzki)

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new vaginal gel has the potential to protect women from HIV, even if it is applied several hours after sex, animal research suggests.

The antimicrobial gel protected five out of six monkeys from a hybrid simian/human AIDS virus when it was used three hours after exposure to the AIDS-causing virus, said lead author Walid Heneine, a researcher in HIV/AIDS prevention for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The same gel also protected two out of three monkeys when applied a half-hour before HIV exposure, according to the study, published March 12 in Science Translational Medicine.

Such a gel could be extremely useful in protecting women from HIV, because it can provide protection either before or after sexual activity, said Rowena Johnston, vice president of research for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

"If you're having sex that's in any way not anticipated, you might not have an opportunity to apply the microbicide before the sex happens," Johnston said. "In the heat of the moment, you might not always have time to say 'Stop, put everything on hold while I put this product in.'"

Don't expect the gel to be on the market anytime soon, however. Researchers are a few years away from human clinical trials, Heneine said, because they are working on improving the gel's effectiveness. And results of animal trials aren't necessarily replicated in humans.

The gel contains a 1-percent solution of the anti-HIV drug raltegravir (Isentress), and works by blocking the ability of the virus to integrate its DNA into the DNA of animal cells.

DNA integration is a crucial step in HIV infection but comes late in the infection process, typically more than six hours after exposure, the researchers found. Focusing preventive treatment on that specific step provides an hours-long window when people can take steps to protect themselves after exposure to HIV.

"It's really a very interesting leap," Johnston said. "If you do want something that would protect against HIV after exposure, then you want a drug that acts later on in the virus' life cycle."

Once the gel is applied, the HIV cannot transmit its DNA into cells, the researchers say.

"The DNA degrades and the cell does not become affected," Heneine said. Raltegravir has "been very effective in HIV treatment, and now we're looking at it in prevention," he added.

In the United States, the AIDS virus is mainly spread by having unprotected sex (sex without a condom) with someone infected with HIV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers first tested the gel's effectiveness pre-contact, by applying it to three monkeys who were exposed to HIV twice a week for seven weeks. By the end, two of the three remained HIV-free, compared with just one out of 10 monkeys in a group that received an inactive placebo gel.

The team then tested whether the gel could protect against HIV infection after exposure, using six monkeys exposed to HIV twice a week for two and a half months. By applying the gel three hours after exposure, researchers were able to protect five of the six monkeys from HIV infection. All four monkeys in the placebo group contracted HIV.

Such a gel, once through its clinical trials and approved, could become as widely used as birth control devices such as condoms and spermicidal gels, Johnston said.

"You can imagine this to be a useful product to have, if it were something you could buy over the counter and have at home just in case," she said.

More information

For more information on HIV prevention, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • As US economy accelerates, Fed remains cautious

    As US economy accelerates, Fed remains cautious

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:17 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:17:00 GMT
    After a dismal winter, the U.S. economy sprang back to life in the April-June quarter, growing at a fast 4 percent annual rate on the strength of higher consumer and business spending.More >>
    After a grim start to 2014, the U.S. economy has rebounded with vigor and should show renewed strength into next year.More >>
  • Deadly Israeli strikes hit UN school, market area

    Deadly Israeli strikes hit UN school, market area

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:26:47 GMT
    A Palestinian health official says 13 people were killed after tank shells hit a U.N. school in Gaza where hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge from Israeli attacks.More >>
    Israeli artillery shells tore through the walls of a U.N. school crowded with sleeping war refugees and back-to-back explosions rocked a market filled with shoppers Wednesday as Israel's stepped up campaign against...More >>
  • Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:49 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:49:43 GMT
    Republicans are ready to muscle legislation through the House authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law.More >>
    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms