Govt welcomes gel breakthrough

2010-07-21 08:17

Johannesburg - The announcement of a "breakthrough" gel to help women protect themselves against HIV and other infections was welcomed by Cabinet on Tuesday.

"Cabinet welcomed the groundbreaking news that a study that was jointly funded by the South African and United States governments had established that an antiretroviral microbicide reduces the rate of HIV and herpes infections in women by 40% and 51% respectively," said government spokesperson Themba Maseko following a regular Cabinet meeting in Pretoria.

The study was presented at the International Aids Conference in Vienna, Austria. It was conducted by the Centre for Aids Programme of Research in Durban which partnered with associates from the Columbia University in the US.

"Sexual transmission of HIV is the most common way that HIV is spread and accounts for about 85% of all HIV infections globally.

"A key driver of HIV infection in southern Africa is the high rate of new HIV infection among young women and reducing new infections in this category is key to altering the HIV epidemic in the region," Maseko said.

Studies to confirm the results would be initiated "urgently" to fast-track the availability of the gel to the public.

It would also be manufactured in South Africa for distribution locally and internationally.