Researchers says they are on step closer to developing the drug, which, when applied three hours after infection, protected female monkeys from a type of HIV.
The study’s findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, could lead to a new way of fighting the global spread of HIV.
Of course, the use of condoms still remains the best defence against infection. Vaginal gels containing HIV medicines, when used in human clinical trials, have had mixed results.
This US study concentrated on the use of this treatment and it’s potential to be effective in the hours after HIV exposure.
Five out of six monkeys were protected against a laboratory strain of animal-human HIV when the gel was applied shortly before or three hours after infection.
“It’s a promising after-sex vaginal gel to prevent HIV infection,” said a spokesperson from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV/AIDS division.
“Studies still need to be done to look at the window [of opportunity] – is it six, eight, 24 hours?”
Experts warn there are still several obstacles before a new human treatment can become available.