The rapidly increasing number of women, especially young, dying from AIDS urges scientists to invent an effective means of prevention of the infection with HIV. Design of a protective gel or cream is considered to be the most promising direction in AIDS prevention and one could hit the market in five years time if all goes well, a leading researcher said on Wednesday.
With women making up nearly 60 percent of all HIV infections in Africa, and because being young, married and faithful is no protection against infection, the need has never been greater.
"There could be a product on the market in five years if the current products in large scale trials work," Dr Zeda Rosenberg, of the non-profit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), told Reuters at a global AIDS conference.
"If they do not, then it will be seven to nine years."
AIDS experts estimate that even a partially effective microbicide -- a cream, gel, foaming tablet or a vaginal ring that acts like an invisible condom -- could prevent 2.5 million deaths from AIDS over three years.
Many cultures deny women the power and confidence to demand that partners wear condoms — regarded as the key prevention tool.
According to MSNBC, the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, in his opening address to the 15th International AIDS Conference, stressed the importance of helping women.
“We must ensure they have full access to the practical options that can protect them from HIV -- including microbicides, as they become available,” he said.