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Gel Is Next Hope for Preventing HIV in Women

Gels, Cream May Help Protect Highest Risk Group From AIDS Virus

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Microbicides "will particularly be effective for women in developing nations who are not able to persuade their partner to use a condom," Rosenberg says. But even in the United States and other developed nations, young women who are afraid to ask new partners to use a condom could benefit greatly, she adds.

About a dozen of microbicides are now in human testing, she says.

According to Rosenberg, the "ABC" philosophy -- abstinence, being faithful, and using condoms -- backed by the Bush administration is a misguided strategy. "Married women, or women who do not have control over if they have sex, cannot choose abstinence. And many women who have contracted HIV infection from their husbands or long-term partners were faithful," she says.

Bernard Hirschel, MD, head of HIV/AIDS at the University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland, and chairman of the XII International AIDS Conference, held in Geneva in 1996, tells WebMD that as much as he would like to see a vaccine to prevent AIDS, he theorizes an effective microbicide will become available first. "That research is further along," he says.

"An effective microbicide could make a huge dent in infections among women, both in the United States and developing countries," he says.

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