Sex & Health: Promising HIV Prevention News for Women

HIV VirusWe 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.


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.

One thought on “Sex & Health: Promising HIV Prevention News for Women

  1. I am very heartened by this news. In the late 80’s and early 90’s I worked with a project called the Wedge. It was the first project to make HIV+ people the central focus of an HIV prevention curriculum. About half of our speakers were women, very strong, dynamic women. About half of those women, many of them friends, were married or thought that their boyfriends were monogamous; they got HIV from someone whom they trusted. Most passed away a while ago due to the disease. If this type of anti-HIV gel had been available back then, who knows? Many of these wonderful women might still be alive.

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