What are Microbicides

A “microbicide” is a substance that can substantially reduce transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when applied in the vagina. Like today’s spermicides, a microbicide could be produced in many forms, including; gels, creams, suppositories, films, or in the form of a sponge or a vaginal ring that slowly releases the active ingredient over time. Microbicides are not currently available, but scientists are pursuing over 60 product leads.

What kinds of microbicides are they trying to create?

Scientists are presently exploring developing three different types of microbicides. Among these are substances that:

  • kill or immobilize STI pathogens;
  • block infection by creating a barrier between the pathogen and the vagina; or
  • prevent the infection from taking hold after it has entered the body.

Other important information about microbicides

Microbicides will not replace condoms as the preferred option for better protection against HIV and STIs. But they will be an option for people who cannot or will not use a condom, and particularly for women whose partners refuse to use condoms, or women who fear violence if they request condom use.

Also, since STIs are caused by different pathogens (some viral, some bacterial), there will not be a microbicide that works against all STIs at the same time.

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