Monday, February 28, 2011

Tenofovir gel protects anal tissue

via Reuters

An experimental gel containing a prescription HIV drug has been shown for the first time to protect rectal tissue against the virus that causes AIDS, according to new research.
The gel, containing Gilead Sciences Inc's AIDS drug tenofovir, has previously been shown to sharply reduce HIV infections in women when applied inside the vagina.

The latest study, which involved rectal tissue biopsies taken from HIV-negative men and women who used the product daily for one week, provides the first evidence that tenofovir gel could help reduce the risk of HIV from anal sex.

The researchers, who presented the findings at a medical meeting in Boston, are reformulating the gel so that it is less harmful to the rectum than the original vaginal microbicide.

The risk of becoming infected with HIV from unprotected anal sex may be at least 20 times greater than unprotected vaginal sex, in part because the rectal lining is only one-cell thick compared to the vagina's multiple layers, making it easier for the virus to reach cells to infect, the researchers said in a statement.

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