This 94-page document is an extensive state-of-the-art report by the Science Working Group of the Microbicide Initiative. With individual chapters authored by different scientific experts, it provides a scientific road map for the development of a safe effective vaginal microbicide against infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

A microbicide is viewed as "a critical adjunct to condoms, as well as complementing current efforts to develop a therapeutic or prophylactic HIV vaccine", with the added advantage that an effective microbicide is likely to be produced more widely and more rapidly than a vaccine.

The report covers topics ranging from basic research, through the challenges of pre-clinical and clinical testing, to key issues in manufacturing, formulation, acceptability and end use. Highlights of the basic science section includes diagrams showing how HIV infection takes place, the HIV life cycle within an infected cell, and steps where microbicides may act. Also included are tables of microbicides in development, and their many sponsors and developers. Final chapters include a section on the global epidemiology of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.