Sexual Health news - HIV

Researchers formulate rectal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV


The antiretroviral drug tenofovir has been shown in trials to be somewhat effective at preventing the transmission of HIV through vaginal intercourse. However, the drug was shown to have serious side effects when used rectally, which is problematic considering that the risk of becoming infected with HIV is about 20 times higher during anal sex than vaginal intercourse.

A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Alabama, Birmingham and Fenway Health in Boston reformulated the tenofovir gel so that it can be safely used in the anus.

The study authors conducted their clinical trial on 65 men and women who were divided into four groups: one who used the rectal formulation of tenofovir gel, a second who used a spermicidal gel, a third that was given a placebo and a fourth who used no gel and acted as a control.

The scientists reported no serious side effects from the new tenofovir formulation, and about 87 percent of the individuals who used it during the study said they would use it again.

"These findings tell us that the 'rectal-friendly' version of tenofovir gel was much better tolerated than the vaginal formulation of the gel when used in the rectum," said Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator.