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Vaginal microbicide undergoes safety trial

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DAVIS, Calif., Nov 30, 2006 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Researchers are seeking participants for the first U.S. study of the safety of a new vaginal gel designed to prevent herpes and HIV infection.

The University of California-Davis scientists say if the gel is found effective and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it would become an important weapon in the fight against HIV since it would allow women to protect themselves from infection rather than relying on their partners to use condoms.

"The significance of the gel is that it potentially gives the power back to the woman to protect herself against infection," said Dr. Anna-Barbara Moscicki, professor of pediatrics and lead investigator for the study.

The gel -- brand name VivaGel -- is not a contraceptive, but a microbicide that is inserted into the vagina solely to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. There are currently no such products on the market.

Following the safety research, other trials will be conducted to determine its effectiveness at fighting herpes and HIV infection. But Moscicki said previous trials in animals have found the gel to be nearly 100 percent effective, with few side effects.


Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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