Carraguard vaginal gel safety in HIV-positive women and men in South Africa

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: To assess the safety of the candidate microbicide Carraguard gel in HIV-positive women and men. Design: A randomized, placebo-controlled, triple-blinded clinical trial of Carraguard gel when applied vaginally once per day for 14 intermenstrual days by sexually abstinent and sexually active HIV-positive women; and when applied directly to the penis once per day for 7 days by sexually abstinent HIV-positive men. Methods: In each cohort (n = 20 per cohort), participants were randomized to Carraguard, methylcellulose placebo, or no product (1:1:1). In addition to traditional microbicide trial safety endpoints, the effects of microbicide use on vaginal shedding of HIV-1 RNA and markers of genital inflammation, epithelial sloughing, and microhemorrhage were also explored. Results: Gel compliance was high in both gel-use groups in the 3 cohorts. Carraguard use was not associated with abnormal genital findings, other abnormal clinical findings, markers of genital inflammation, epithelial sloughing or microhemorrhage, or self-reported symptoms in women and men, or with abnormal vaginal flora or genital shedding of HIV-1 RNA in women. Adverse events were mostly mild, not attributed to gel use, and similarly distributed between groups. Conclusions: Once-daily use of Carraguard for 7 to 14 days appeared to be safe in HIV-positive women and men.