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This article has been peer reviewed and is published in BMC Retrovirology 2008, 5:116. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/1742-4690-5-116. Copyright © BioMed Central Ltd.


With the continuing march of the AIDS epidemic and little hope for an effective vaccine in the near future, work to develop a topical strategy to prevent HIV infection is increasingly important. This stated, the track record of large scale "microbicide" trials has been disappointing with nonspecific inhibitors either failing to protect women from infection or even increasing HIV acquisition. Newer strategies that target directly the elements needed for viral entry into cells have shown promise in non-human primate models of HIV transmission and as these agents have not yet been broadly introduced in regions of highest HIV prevalence, they are particularly attractive for prophylaxis. We review here the agents that can block HIV cellular entry and that show promise as topical strategies or "virustats" to prevent mucosal transmission of HIV infection.

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