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Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2011 Jun;8(2):104-13. doi: 10.1007/s11904-011-0075-7.

Topical prophylaxis for HIV prevention in women: becoming a reality.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Forchheimer Building, Room 702, Bronx, NY 10461, USA. nverma@montefiore.org


Strategies to protect against sexual transmission of HIV include the development of products formulated for topical application, which limit the toxicities associated with systemic oral pre-exposure prophylaxis. Following several clinical trial failures, attention is now focused on antiretroviral (ARV) agents. Highly potent ARV topical formulations provide a female-controlled, targeted, and feasible option for HIV prevention. A recently completed tenofovir gel trial was the first to demonstrate significant protection against HIV acquisition. Topical ARVs have the advantage of delivering high concentration of drug at the site of transmission of HIV, with low systemic absorption. Sustained-release formulations, such as intravaginal rings, will likely improve adherence and can be designed to provide controlled and continuous delivery of ARV combinations. Further studies to test alternative dosing strategies and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships in the genital tract will provide valuable information as the field strives to improve upon the promising tenofovir gel trial results.

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