HIV :: S. Africa HIV gel trials halted, 35 women HIV positive

HIV therapy halted in S. Africa, 35 women found HIV positive, health minister Manto ordered an enquiry, and a sequelae of reactions start.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) praised U.S. reproductive health group CONRAD for halting the trials following reports that some of the women involved in the study had contracted HIV.

The gel had been hailed by experts as a possible breakthrough in curbing the spread of AIDS. Participants in the trial were asked to apply the gel to the vagina an hour before sexual intercourse. CONRAD halted the trials of Canada-based Polydex Pharmaceutical’s (POLXF.O) Ushercell gel which were underway in South Africa, India, Benin and Uganda. The trials were in Phase III, usually the final stage before a product can be registered with a drugs regulatory authority. TAC understood 35 women among a total of some 1,600 in the study reported contracting HIV.

South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said on Tuesday she had ordered an inquiry after reports some participants in the trial had contracted HIV.

CONRAD spokeswoman Annette Larkin said the group decided to halt the trials, known as cellulose sulfate HIV prevention, as a precautionary measure after a routine interim analysis of data.

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