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The majority of women in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa are in immediate danger of contracting HIV. But these women are powerless to protect themselves because most are dependent on men for economic security, and are often unable to negotiate safer sex.

Many researchers like Alan Stone, chairman of the International Working Group on Microbicides, believe that microbicides – topical agents that stop the HIV virus being transmitted during intercourse – are the only realistic option. But none of these products has yet successfully completed clinical trials.

In this article, Hannah Brown charts the change in fortunes of microbicides research, from a cash-starved area that was sidelined for many years in favour of developing an AIDS vaccine, to a now-thriving enterprise.

Link to full article in The Lancet (free registration required)

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