The US-funded Microbicide Trials Network is about to launch an AIDS prevention trial in Zimbabwe that will evaluate a microbicide and oral tablets in a single study.
The goal of the research is to determine whether certain antiretrovirals can be used to prevent HIV infection when given as a vaginal microbicide gel or an oral tablet taken once a day. The study of the ARV tablets tenofovir and Truvada will also seek to learn which of the two methods of administration women prefer. The vaginal gel's active ingredient is tenofovir.
The trial will enroll some 5,000 sexually active women in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and possibly Malawi.
"We think it's very unique because nobody has really tested the difference between an oral route of prevention compared to a vaginal route of prevention," said Dr. Mike Chirenje, the study's protocol co-chair, on the sidelines at this week's 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Cape Town, South Africa. The study's initial results are expected in 2012.