By Esther Nakkazi
Uganda is ready to participate in another microbicide trial, the results of the failed largest international clinical trial on HIV prevention microbicide not withstanding, said Stephen Malinga, the minister of health at a press conference in Serena hotel.
After a full explanation and knowledge that there is no danger from using the gel, we shall explain this to our participants and urge them to participate again in any other microbicide trials, said Malinga.
At the trial site in Masaka, women who participated in the trials were crest fallen, even if they knew that the gel might not work, they also had very high hopes that it would work.
“The women are disappointed just as we are but they are very appreciative that we have gone back to inform them on the outcomes of the research just as we had promised to do,” said Anatoli Kamali, the Principle Investigator at the Uganda site.
The women were instructed to insert the gel an hour before sex and not to wash after sex. In Uganda all those recruited were potentially high-risk women.
It is disappointing that the gel did not give HIV prevention a chance; the Abstinence Be faithful Condom use (ABC) strategy and female condoms remain the only option for HIV prevention for women.
Kamali says Uganda will participate in HIV prevention microbicide trials again because huge infrastructure was built and women in Uganda and their partners have demonstrated that they used and very much liked the gel during sex. The gel increased sexual pleasure and it also opened a lot of sexual talk between men and women in Uganda.
“The general concept is that women are willing to use the gel. The next trial that comes around in two years time will be with ARVs and we shall have full participation,” said Kamali.
In Uganda 840 women participated in the trial at the Medical Research Council/Uganda virus Research institute (MRC/UVRI) in Masaka site. The largest international clinical trial to date into a preventive HIV gel found no evidence that the vaginal microbicide, PRO 2000 reduces the risk of HIV infection in women, scientists announced today.
“We need an arsenal of intervention. The failure of this candidate does not mean that we shall stop participation in HIV prevention microbicide trials,” said Dr. David Kihumuro Apuuli, the director general Uganda Aids Commission (UAC).