HIV is transmitted to 6.4 million human beings per year and the majority of these transmissions are sexual. Condoms are highly effective and are recommended as the primary preventive. However, the fact that there are millions of sexual transmissions each year indicates that many people do not use condoms and that additional preventives are needed. The mechanisms of natural prevention of oral transmission by saliva may be adaptable to the susceptible vagina and rectum. The objective of our study was to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by mimicking saliva's targeting of the transmitting infected leukocytes and any cell-free HIV in seminal fluid. The previously recommended anti-HIV topical microbicide, nonoxynol-9, has not prevented HIV transmission in humans, probably because it causes mucosal irritation and attracts CD4+ cells. To identify effective preparations that are nonirritating, we studied the anti-HIV activity of commercially available, over-the-counter (OTC) lubricants and vaginal preparations that are judged safest by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and are nonirritating. The effect of OTC preparations on both the production of HIV by infected leukocytes and cell-free HIV suspended in seminal fluid was measured under simulatedin vivo conditions. We surveyed 22 OTC vaginal preparations and excluded those with low inhibitory activity and those that were inhibitory but likely to be irritating. Three included preparations are highly active against both HIV-infected leukocytes suspended in seminal fluid and active against cell-free HIV, under in vitro conditions that simulatein vivo conditions. Since the preparations identified here as anti-HIV substances have the advantages of being widely available, inexpensive, acceptable, in the safest U.S. FDA category, and may be used by recipient women or men, they should be tested in clinical trials to help prevent sexual transmission of HIV.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases