When even the good news is horrific

BBC News – Scientists say vaginal gel cuts HIV-infections by half

They said the gel, containing Aids drug tenofovir, cut infection rates among 889 women by 50% after one year of use, and by 39% after two and a half years.

If you look at the numbers they report, only 8% of women in the treatment group became infected with HIV over the course of 2.5 versus 13% in the placebo group. Which is great. And means that over the course of, say, 12.5 years at the same rate of sexual activity, if the efficacy remains constant, only about a third of the women in the treatment group will become infected, versus a little more than half of untreated women. Only about a third. (And over 25 years, the numbers would be “only” 60% versus 75% in the control group.)

This is what success looks like, and it’s very sad.

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