Cosatu warns on use of HIV gel
THE jubilant HIV research team that discovered a vaginal gel that reduces HIV infection by 39 percent returned to Durban yesterday.
Sowetan caught up with Salim Abdool Karim, who with his wife Quarraisha spearheaded the trials that showed for the first time an anti-retroviral-based vaginal microbicide gel that gives women substantial protection against HIV infection .
The researchers from Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) used Tenofovir gel on 889 sexually active women at high risk for HIV infection at an urban and a rural site in KwaZulu-Natal.
"We are excited about this gel because it gives women new power and new options."
While the world is lauding the researchers, Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal has cautioned against the use of the gel. It said mixed signals might be sent to people, in particular in the rural areas.
"The use of the gel by women as per its procedure is cumbersome and emphasis must be on the use of condoms," Cosatu provincial general secretary Zet Luzipo said in a statement yesterday.
Karim said the plan was not to scupper government's plan of adherence to testing, abstinence, being faithful and condomising.
"A woman can insert the gel in her vagina within 12 hours of sexual intercourse.
"She can also insert the gel just before sexual intercourse, much like a condom."
Karim said confirmatory studies to be undertaken before the gel could be rolled out.