We have promising news to follow up on our Clinician’s Corner post about National HIV Testing Day. Researchers in South Africa recently announced that a new vaginal gel may reduce a woman’s risk of getting HIV by 39%. The gel works by killing HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
While more studies are needed, this is the first time an “anti-microbial” vaginal gel has been found to offer so much protection. The researchers believe that with more work the gel can be made even more effective, something that is necessary for it to get FDA approval in the United States. Read more in this NY Times article.
HIV & WOMEN
All of us are at risk for HIV. In the U.S., AIDS is the major cause of death for African American women ages 25 to 34. It is also the fourth leading cause of death for Latina women ages 35 to 44. A new Centers for Disease Control study finds that poverty, not race, is the driving force behind the growing number of women who are becoming infected. (Read more about the study in this blog post from Kevin Fenton, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention..)
Ultimately, fighting HIV and other health disparities means fighting poverty. But as we do that, women need more. Right now, women who have sex with men only have two options to protect themselves from HIV – either abstinence or using condoms. Abstinence is not realistic or desirable for many women. Condoms (even vaginal condoms) require the cooperation of one’s partner. At Go Folic! we welcome the prospect of a truly woman-controlled means for reducing HIV risk.