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Aids in africa

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Aids in africa

WOMEN will get the power to protect themselves against AIDS, if the World Health Organisation has its way. Encouraging men to use condoms, it has decided, is not enough. They work, but many men dislike them; and women, especially very young ones, often lack the sexual bargaining clout to insist. Instead, the WHO believes, pharmaceutical companies could have still-to-be-perfected microbicidal vaginal gels or sprays on the market within two years--if they are given a bit of a push.

Vaginal gels have been around for decades, but until recently were not taken into account by AIDS researchers. Most were contraceptive barriers; some were aimed against sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea. Early trials for use against the AIDS virus, HIV, involved a spermicide called nonoxynol-9. Results were mixed. It seemed to give results in Cameroon and Zambia, but some Kenyan prostitutes developed ulcers, which might make infection easier rather than more difficult. But a prostitute's sexual life is hardly typical; and other products or other methods of use might prove better.

For any product to be acceptable, says Eka Esu-Williams, the Nigerian president of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa, it must be possible to separate the spermicidal or contraceptive function from ...

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