Category Archives: Microbicides

More from Vienna (forgotten MSM, microbicide news) even though I’m not there!

I am finding it quite difficult to remotely  keep up with the thousands of findings from Vienna, however I have been reading some of the more important snippets.  Some other people’s posts that hint that conference organizers have not addressed the growing epidemic among men who have sex with men in conference programming.  According to several posts, only 2% of conference programming has focused around men who have sex with men, even though we know that the epidemic is rising most sharply among these groups, in both developing and developed countries.  This disturbs me and makes me to do what I want to do even more, global HIV prevention among MSM.  I applaud the efforts of the Global Forum, for hosting the one day pre-conference entitled “Be Heard”, however we must continue to fight that MSM issues remain at the forefront of the HIV agenda. I remember being in awe in Mexico City when Bill Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon, the mayor of Mexico City, and several other high level policy makers came forward and said that homophobia must be eradicated in order to prevent transmission of HIV among MSM.  We must make our voices loudly heard and hope that gay activists and groups step it up in DC, to ensure that we are heard and have our fair share of speakers, posters, etc. on the agenda.  This cannot happen without all of us doing our part and continuing to advocate and conduct research and outreach for our brothers.

There has been much attention at this conference paid to the dissemination of results of recent microbicide trials.  A microbicide is a substance designed to reduce transmission of microbes, in this case HIV.  Microbicides  can be in the form of creams, gels, suppositories, etc.  Most microbicdes in development are designed for vaginal application, designed to prevent heterosexual transmission. They contain HIV antiviral agents (in this case tenofovir) designed to prevent HIV from entering the body.  According to several media sources, the latest trials have shown  that the microbicde has been shown to decrease transmission of HIV by 39% in three quarters of sexual contacts.  Our friends at the International Rectal Microbicides Advocacy blog , have some great entries and media on the results of the trials and the media coverage at Vienna.  IRMA advocates for research surrounding rectal microbicdes, which would help to prevent HIV trransmission via anal sex between two men or a man and a woman.  Many  heterosexual couples in the developing world engage in anal sex, and there has been attempts to try to quantify the trure numbers and risk levels.   The results from the vaginal trial are SO promising and would provide women a uniquely woman centered approach they can use for protection of HIV (although I like to argue that the female condom is somewhat woman centered).

And as I write this entry I just found my medical calling.  Faced with finding a way to pair my upcoming medical and public health training, with HIV prevention among MSM, I have always thought that my calling would be direct service provision to HIV positive (and negative) MSM.  While this is still the case,  I just decided I would like to engage in research to advance rectal microbicdes.  I was never much of one for research, but I think studying medicine will change that, and the cause is in need of individual champions willing to dedicate their talents to speaking up for rectal microbicides.