Saturday, July 14, 2007

Diaphragms can't help prevent HIV infection

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Using a condom in conjunction with a diaphragmto protect against HIV infection in women is no more effective than relying on a condom alone.

The findings are reported in an article published this week in The Lancet (13 July) by Nancy Padian, from the University of California in San Francisco, and her colleagues. The team, from Methods for Improving Reproductive Health in Africa (MIRA), did a randomised trial of almost 5,000 sexually active, HIV-negative women in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"Although the intervention seemed safe, our findings do not support addition of the diaphragm to current HIV-prevention strategies," they conclude.

The researchers compared the provision of a diaphragm, lubricant gel and a condom to half the women (intervention group) with provision of a condom alone to the remainder (control group). The women were tested quarterly for HIV for 12–24 months (median, 21 months).

In addition, all the women were given an 'HIV-prevention package' of pre-test and post-test counselling about HIV and sexually transmitted infections, testing, treatment of curable sexually transmitted diseases, and intensive risk-reduction counselling.

According to Ramjee, director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the Medical Research Council of South Africa, diaphragms cannot be recommended for HIV prevention on the basis of the results of this trial, and research has to continue. Link

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