A project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
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Fact Sheet Number 157
WHAT ARE MICROBICIDES?
Microbicides are anti-HIV substances.
They could reduce the risk of HIV
No microbicides are
available yet. However, with sufficient
funding and demand, microbicides could
be available by 2010.
They could be a very important part of
global HIV prevention efforts. Currently,
male and female condoms are the only
tools we have
for HIV prevention.
However, many men object to wearing
condoms. Many women do not feel they
can demand, or even ask their male
partners to use a condom. Currently, over
50% of new HIV infections worldwide
occur in women.
The use of microbicides could be
controlled by women. They could be
applied before sex. They won’t require
male cooperation to use, the way male
and female condoms do. Some might be
products women can use without their
They will come in gels, foams, and
creams. Some may take the form of a
sponge or thin film that can be inserted
with the fingers. Rings or diaphragms may
also be inserted into the vagina to deliver
microbicides. Microbicides can also be
in suppositories, small plugs of
medication designed to melt at body
temperature when placed in the vagina or
One study estimated that microbicide use
could prevent about 2.5 million HIV
infections within 3 years. This is based on
a microbicide that only worked 60% of the
time and was used by only 20% of
women, in 73 low income countries.
Microbicides may also protect women
against some other sexually transmitted
diseases, in addition to HIV.
Condoms are still the most effective
method of preventing infection. Ideally,
microbicides would be used along with
condoms for ad