sexta-feira, fevereiro 03, 2006
Europe to take HIV prevention lead
The political climate in the USA is so hostile to researching new HIV prevention methods for gay men that Europe should take the lead, a top microbicides researcher has said.
Dr Alex Carballo-Diéguez of New York told a meeting of the US Rectal Microbicides campaign that no researcher stood a chance of getting funding if his applications used words like ‘rectal’ or mentioned ‘men who have sex with men’.
A microbicide is a substance which, incorporated into a gel, lube or enema, could prevent or reduce the transmission of HIV and other STDs during sex.
Carballo-Diéguez was one of the researchers behind last year’s trial of a ‘dummy microbicide’ in gay men. He got gay men to squirt different amounts of a lube called Femglide up their butts to see how much might be acceptable during sex. See here for article. “We called the study ‘topical microbicide acceptability in high risk men,” said Diéguez.
“We have to play this infantile game. It gets past people who are hostile to gay men’s work, but it means well-intentioned people trying to find out about rectal microbicide research can’t find the paper.”
The US National Institute of Health has granted $16.5 million (£9.2 m) for rectal microbicide research, but this is only 6% of the $280 million (£156.3m) spent on vaginal microbicides and only 1% on what’s spent on the so-far unsuccessful search for an HIV vaccine.
Diéguez criticised European funders for putting no money into microbicides for anal sex at all. Diéguez’s first trial involved only 18 gay men, but he is planning a second-line trial in 100 men to establish the acceptability of a thicker gel versus a suppository.
He said part of the challenge of introducing gay men (or anyone) to a microbicide was that it introduced a new behaviour during sex – very much like persuading people to use condoms who hadn’t done so before.“You can’t just put on a microbicide like a dab of lube,” he said. “You have to put it right up the rectum with an applicator or it doesn’t get to where it’s needed.” He said the answer might be to put HIV-blocking substances into enemas devised for douching.