The International Partnership for Microbicides in Silver Spring, Maryland, has announced a $100 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of its work to develop microbicides that give women in developing countries the power to protect themselves against HIV infection. The UK Department for International Development has pledged an additional $28.5 million to the effort.
The grant is the Gates Foundation's second, and DFID's third, to IPM, a nonprofit product-development partnership working to accelerate the development and availability of safe, effective microbicides that have the potential to prevent HIV transmission during sexual intercourse. The announcement follows encouraging results from the National Institutes of Health Microbicide Trials Network's clinical trial of a microbicide candidate, PRO2000, which showed the product was 30 percent more effective than any other in the study at preventing HIV.
Around seven thousand new cases of HIV infection and almost six thousand AIDS-related deaths occur each day. Increasingly, women and young girls bear the burden of the epidemic, and in sub-Saharan Africa young women are more than three times as likely to be infected as young men. IPM's microbicide research could result in "an HIV prevention method that would put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women, who often are unable to insist on abstinence or condoms," said Dr. Tachi Yamada, president of the Gates Foundation's global health program.
"Safe and effective microbicides have the potential to save millions of lives by giving women an HIV prevention option that they can initiate and control," said IPM chief executive Dr. Zeda Rosenberg. "Taken together, these grants by two of IPM's longstanding donors will provide additional momentum to deliver on this promise."