Project Ubuzima, an international non-profit group conducting clinical trials in Kigali, has recruited 28 women to volunteer in testing a new vaginal gel, which is said to be 39% effective in reducing the risk of being infected with HIV during sexual intercourse.
A statement from Project Ubuzima says that ground breaking proof from a concept study carried out by Centre for AIDS Program of Research in South Africa, shows that Tenofovir, the vaginal gel, can become an important component in reducing HIV infection, particularly in women.
Speaking to The New Times, the Study Physician at Project Ubuzima, Dr. Gilles Francois Ndayisaba, said that the project was approved by the National AIDS Commission to recruit 40 volunteers to participate in tests, but so far, only 28 had registered.
“The gel is inserted manually into the vagina, 12 hours before sexual intercourse. It then prevents the HIV virus from starting the process of replicating its genetic material thus saving a woman from acquiring the virus,” Ndayisaba said.
He added that with support from the government, Project Ubuzima carries out research to study how Rwandan women respond to the product and that similar tests are being carried out by other countries worldwide.
“Rwanda signed a contract with the gel manufacturer which states that, if the product shows positive results, they would provide the gel at no or limited cost, meaning that Rwanda would be one of the first countries to receive the product in Africa,” Ndayisaba added.
Evelyn Kestelyn, the Scientific Manager at Project Ubuzima, said that confirmatory studies may be needed to establish definitive proof of the effectiveness of Tenoforvir gel, which is why studies are being conducted to establish proof of its effectiveness before it can be put on the market.
“This international standard research is possible due to the government’s support of clinical research,” Kestelyn said.
The breakthrough results were first announced on Monday this week during the International AIDS conference in Vienna and a statement from The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was released welcoming the findings as a new advance in HIV prevention.