The HIV reducing microbe.

A trial of a powerful new microbicidal vaginal gel reduced the HIV infection rate of test subjects by 54%. The gel is a 1% solution of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir, which stops HIV replication. At Scientific American, Katherine Harmon writes:

A reliable HIV-prevention method for women has thus far proved hard to come by, leaving many millions of at-risk women subject to their partner’s decision about condoms…


But a gel that can be applied discretely could severely cut back on HIV, a disease that currently infects an estimated 33 million people worldwide. Researchers involved in the new study calculated that if about a third of women in South Africa could use this gel, in the next 20 years, 1.3 million HIV infections—and 820,000 HIV-related deaths—could be prevented in that country alone.