Microsoft founder Bill Gates has made $60m available to fund research into how to reduce the risk of HIV infection among women in developing countries.
Bill Gates will fund new research
The grant has been awarded to scientists from the International Partnership for Microbicides in Silver Spring, Maryland.
It will be used to help experts formulate an anti-HIV gel, cream or similar product.
Helene Gayle, director of HIV, TB and Reproductive Health for the Gates Foundation, said women were at greater risk of HIV infection than men.
Given the low availability of female condoms, it was important to find other way that women can protect themselves, she said.
"The imperative to find something that women can use to
protect themselves from HIV is clear and urgent.
"The only technology we have is a male-controlled
technology - a condom."
Ms Gayle said research into the development of microbicides had been neglected by the pharmaceutical industry because they were by no means certain to prove lucrative.
Zeda Rosenberg, IPM chief executive officer, said more than 50 microbial substances were currently under development.
Many years of testing lay ahead, she said, but it was possible that a microbicide could be available by the end of the decade.
"The grant will certainly help us more easily achieve our mission."