Following a successful and nearly complete research on microbicide medical products that prevent women from being infected with HIV, Projet Ubuzima, a nonprofit organisation, is scheduled to recruit 500 to 800 female volunteers next year, for its third and final phase of the study.
Between July and August this year, Projet Ubuzima recruited 37 female volunteers - for the study’s second phase- who participated in testing for the new vaginal gel, which is said to be up to 50% effective in reducing the risk of women being infected with HIV during sexual intercourse.
Projet Ubuzima is supported by the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), which is the lead organization supporting research in the development and availability of safe and effective microbicides for use by women in the developing world in the prevention of HIV.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, the Scientific Manager at the project, Evelyne Kestelyn, revealed that due to the project’s progress, Rwanda had been selected alongside Malawi, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe by IPM to carry out the final phase.
“When the products finally come on the market in the near future, countries that were selected to implement phase III will get the products for free or will purchase them at a subsidized price, unlike other countries,” Kestelyn said.
“Our studies are based on microbicide products that contain an ARV compound called Dapirivine, which is being developed as a vaginal gels, films and rings to help protect women from being infected during sex with their male partners.”
She added that during the clinical trials, the health and safety of volunteers is put as first priority under standard clinical processes, which are approved and monitored by regulatory authorities like the National AIDS Control Commission.
“Before we ask participants to begin using any product, we test it extensively in our labs and only products that show strong safety profiles are used in testing people,” Kestelyn added.
The use of microbicides to fight HIV infection was first embraced in July this year by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS during an international AIDS conference in Vienna.