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Last month, the clinical trial for a cellulose sulphate vaginal gel ― designed to protect women from HIV infection ― became the third large-scale microbicide trial to be halted over safety concerns.

This well-publicised pattern of failures risks losing the public's confidence, warns this Nature editorial.

Microbicide research needs a consultative body and appropriate systems for choosing which treatments to put through the testing process, instead of blindly pushing through products that have performed poorly in animal trials.

And there is a wider need for cross-disciplinary dialogue on HIV/AIDS intervention strategies.

The establishment of a forum would help address these unresolved problems, including whether to counsel trial participants and how to ensure that successful interventions are available where they are most needed.

This would hopefully make AIDS prevention research more actively and carefully coordinated.

Link to the full article in Nature