Public Release:  Population Council awarded USAID cooperative agreement to develop non-antiretroviral HIV microbicide

Population Council

NEW YORK (6 January 2014) -- The Population Council today announced it was awarded a cooperative agreement from the US Agency for International Development's (USAID) Office of HIV and AIDS: "Non-ARV Based Combination Microbicide that Blocks HIV and Other STIs." The agreement, made possible by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), supports the development of safe, effective, and acceptable non-antiretroviral (ARV) microbicides for the prevention of HIV and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). The five-year, $20-million initiative will also identify regulatory pathways to advance the Council's non-ARV microbicides into clinical testing.

More than 35 million people are infected with HIV globally. In sub-Saharan Africa--the center of the global epidemic--women account for nearly 60 percent of all people living with HIV. Microbicide products that protect women against HIV and other STIs that increase susceptibility to HIV would help address these health risks, promote affordability of services, and make positive contributions to global public health.

"Non-ARV microbicides have the potential to deliver an additional prevention option to women and men at risk of HIV, and contribute to meeting the diverse needs for HIV and STI prevention globally," said Naomi Rutenberg, PhD, Council vice president and director of the HIV and AIDS program. "We look forward to advancing these innovative products to help safeguard the health of those at high risk for acquiring HIV."

A non-ARV microbicide may offer multiple advantages over ARV microbicides by eliminating the need for HIV screening prior to and during use; reducing the emergence of drug-resistant HIV cases that may compromise subsequent treatment with ARVs; and potentially leading to an over-the-counter product, which would increase accessibility for people in high-demand and low-resource settings.

Drs. Melissa Robbiani and Thomas Zydowsky of the Population Council will be the primary investigators.

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This press release is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). These contents are the responsibility of the Population Council and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

About the Population Council

The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues--from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.

Media and Project Contacts

Melanie Boyer: mboyer@popcouncil.org; +1 202 237 9404

Dr. Melissa J. Robbiani, Senior Scientist and Director, Biomedical HIV Research: mrobbiani@popcouncil.org; +1 212 327 7794

Dr. Thomas M. Zydowsky, Senior Scientist and Head of Pharmaceutical Development: tzydowsky@popcouncil.org; +1 212 327 8744

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