HIV gel study followed all research protocols

I am writing to respond to Dudu Busani's article recently published in Sowetan regarding an HIV prevention study in Durban.

I am writing to respond to Dudu Busani's article recently published in Sowetan regarding an HIV prevention study in Durban.

She said the women used in the study were told the gel minimised their chances of contracting the HI-virus. It would be wonderful if a product proven to prevent HIV existed, but there is none.

We respect the dignity and rights of HIV prevention study participants. The participants in the study were admitted into the study on condition they understood its risks and benefits.

The women were given free condoms, and either the cellulose sulfate gel or an inert (placebo) gel to use when indulging in sex.

Why is this important? Like many other women, the women who participated in the study are at high risk of contracting HIV because many of them are not able to successfully negotiate condom use.

The wellbeing of women is our highest priority, and that is why we are working so diligently to find new ways to prevent HIV infection.

While it is disappointing that this particular gel appears not to have been effective, and may even have increased the chances of HIV infection in those women whose behavior put them at risk, we are committed to working with women, communities and health institutions to prevent HIV in the future.

Dr Henry Gabelnick

Executive director, Conrad

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