Monday, October 31, 2005

Well, this sounds encouraging:

Research Finds Gel May Help Prevent AIDS

...A paper due for publication this week in the journal Nature found that a combination of three drugs applied topically in monkeys prevented infection with a virus similar to the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS. The results are among the most promising to date in tests of this approach and point toward a prevention strategy that could save many lives.

The International Partnership for Microbicides, a Silver Spring group working to bring a preventive gel to women at risk of AIDS in poor countries, said Monday it had struck deals with Merck & Co. and with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

...Scientists at the partnership hope to create a safe but powerful combination product that a woman could apply as long as several hours before sex, with or without the knowledge of her partner....

I hope this works out. I hope it's safe and effective. (In monkey tests, a three-drug gel seems to be highly effective in blocking the simian equivalent of HIV.)

And then I hope distribution of the gel isn't limited because certain God-botherers in America think it will encourage promiscuity. Recently, U.S.-funded programs in Uganda, for instance, have been removing information about condoms from AIDS-prevention curricula, while access to condoms has been reduced. If a gel is developed, it won't be available for a while -- it will be after Bush leaves office -- but there's no guarantee that his successor will be less in the pocket of the religious right. So could access to an anti-AIDS gel be similarly curtailed?

Remember, a former Focus on the Family medical analyst has been put on the government panel that will decide how widespread the distribution of an upcoming cervical cancer vaccine will be in this country. That's modern America.

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