HIV study named 2010 'breakthrough'

On Decc 17, Science Magazine recognized a promising HIV study as one of the top ten achievements of 2010.The groundbreaking research provided the first-ever proof of concept that a microbicide can effectively and safely reduce HIV transmission in women. Ninety percent of the study was funded by USAID as part of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The HIV prevention trials were conducted by the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) with assistance from two USAID-funded implementing partners, Family Health International (FHI) and CONRAD. Researchers of the study tested the use of a vaginal gel containing 1% of the anti-HIV drug tenofovir. The drug was administered over a 30-month period to 889 South African women and was proven to reduce HIV infections by 39 percent. The microbicide trial exemplifies USAID's commitment to supporting game-changing breakthroughs in global health, and also to focus on women and gender equality, both of which will expand under President Obama's Global Health Initiative, officials said. Further, USAID is committed to building a solid foundation of robust science and new technologies, enabling innovation to redefine and strengthen U.S. development assistance globally. Notably, the microbicide study was one of two breakthroughs in HIV/AIDS prevention recognized in the Top 10 list. Science Magazine also recognized the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative (iPrEx) study, which confirmed that daily oral use of a combination antiretroviral (ARV), Truvada reduced the risk of HIV infection by 44 percent among men who have sex with men. This historic iPrEx trial provides the first proof of concept that oral PrEP of an ARV can prevent HIV transmission. USAID is looking to complement the iPrEx results with a similar study for women. The FemPrEP clinical trial - led by FHI with support from USAID - is designed to test the safety and effectiveness of a daily dose of Truvada for HIV prevention. Finding a woman-controlled method of prevention is critical in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to health officials. For more information about USAID and the agency's HIV/AIDS work, visit

********** Published: December 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 36