Miriam recruits women for new, experimental way to prevent HIV infection

Dr. Susan Cu-Uvin is a principal investigator for a study looking at a possible new way for women to prevent being infected with HIV. Right now it's in the experimental phase.

A possible new way for women to prevent being infected with HIV. Right now it's in the experimental phase.

Dr. Susan Cu-Uvin is the principal investigator for this study looking at a strip of film.

"It's colorless, odorless," said Dr. Cu-Uvin.

What's in this small strip are antibodies. The strip is inserted vaginally.

"You put it in there and then you just leave it. And it dissolves," she said. "And then the monoclonal antibodies coat your vaginal area and cervix and it should prevent the binding of HIV and herpes so that they don't enter your mucosa and infect you."

Right now, The Miriam Hospital is recruiting 30 women in Southern New England to take part.

"We are recruiting women 18 to 45 years of age who are healthy, who are HIV negative because we're testing mainly the safety of using it and the acceptability of using it," said Cu-Uvin.

Those enrolled will be tested before, during and after for any possible side effects, but researchers don't expect there to be any.

"We're also taking blood to make sure that your kidney function, your liver function are not affected at all," said Cu-Uvin.

What's most exciting are the animal studies that led up to this investigation which, Dr. Cu-Uvin says showed this plant-based antibody to be protective against the virus for up to 24 hours after insertion. What's more, if this study pans out and is shown to be safe AND effective, it would give women a stronger voice.

"We've always said condoms, used properly, are very good protection against HIV,” said Cu-Uvin. “But in real life the reason why HIV continues to spread is because a lot of women don't have control over the use of condoms."

This study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is only being done at The Miriam Hospital in Providence. If this monoclonal antibody is proven to be safe--researchers believe it will be--then this research will be expanded to include more women at multiple sites. For more on this study, call: 401-793-4771 or 401-793-7437

For more information visit this page.

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