As the HIV epidemic continues to ravage the developing world, effective ways of preventing its spread are needed more urgently than ever. But scientists say an HIV/AIDS vaccine is likely to be at least a decade away.
In the meantime, researchers are finding that simpler preventive strategies could be useful in tackling the disease, reports Jon Cohen in this article in Science.
For example, studies on male circumcision, the use of existing drugs such as tenofovir, and improved genital hygiene suggest that these methods could all be used to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus, he says.
Scientists concede that most of these methods rely on the willingness of people to use them, as well as on an understanding that protection does not mean they can have unsafe sex, adds Cohen.
But, he concludes, most researchers say that in the absence of a vaccine, a combination of these methods could slow the onward march of HIV.