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AIDS and VivaGel™

Millions of people around are the world are affected by AIDS, and about 180 new cases are diagnosed in New Zealand every year. Now, our scientists have joined the fight against this deadly disease.

What is AIDS?

AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

HIV attacks the cells of the immune system, in particular the T-helper cells. Without these cells, the immune system can’t organise an immune response to the HIV virus -or to any other infection - the way it normally would. People don’t die of AIDS; they die of an infection that they are not able to fight off because they have AIDS.

HIV is passed from person to person through direct exchange of contaminated body fluids. Most commonly this happens during sex.

Prevention is better than cure

There is no known cure for HIV/AIDS. A cocktail of drugs can prolong life, and research for a permanent solution is continuing. However, a lot of research is also aimed at reducing the number of people becoming infected – and New Zealand has now joined that battle!

Barrier contraceptives like condoms can prevent the virus passing between sexual partners but because there is no “female condom”, a woman’s ability to protect herself from infection from a partner is outside her control.

New Zealand joins Australia in the fight

Scientists from Starpharma in Australia have developed a gel that can be used by women to protect themselves from picking up HIV during normal sexual intercourse. Known as VivaGel™, New Zealand scientists at Industrial Research Limited (IRL) have worked with StarPharma to help progress the gel further.

Getting a pharmaceutical product to market is a time consuming and expensive business. IRL formed a partnership with Starpharma to turn their VivaGel™ product into a business venture.

New gel could save lives

Click on this Biotech Hub news story which explains how VivaGel™ works. New gel could save lives

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