Currently, microbe-killing vaginal gels are being tested in a number of clinical trials involving thousands of women. Results should be available within two years, the Associated Press reported.
According to foodconsumer.org, if the trials prove the gels are effective and if governments fast-track their approval, they could be on the market as early as 2010, Gita Ramjee, director of the HIV prevention research unit at South Africa's Medical Research Council, said at a news conference in Cape Town before an international conference on microbicides.
More than 1,000 scientists and researchers are attending the conference, which is co-sponsored by the World Health Organization.
In many parts of the world, HIV infections are increasing more rapidly among women than men. Half of all adults with HIV are female, according to the United Nations.
A microbicide that's 60 percent effective against HIV that's used by only 20 percent of women in 73 developing countries could prevent 2.5 million HIV infections, the London School of Tropical Hygiene has calculated, the AP reported.