Thèmes et resources
Prévention et promotion de la santé

Microbicides: Giving women power over AIDS

Topical products and oral pills to prevent infection may offer women protection they control. For more than a decade, HIV has quietly but steadily claimed women’s lives. Today, nearly half of new HIV infections occur among women. In sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of people living with HIV are females. Women are more biologically vulnerable to HIV infection during heterosexual sex than men, and they often have less power to protect themselves against it.

New products, in the form of topical gels and films, vaginal rings, and oral pills, are being developed to stop HIV, and perhaps other sexually transmitted infections, from taking hold. New HIV-prevention products could allow women in vulnerable situations to sidestep the sometimes-impossible conversation about condom use with their husbands, boyfriends, and other sexual partners—or to have that conversation just once.

The Global Campaign for Microbicides, housed at PATH, is increasing awareness about and mobilizing support for the development and accessibility of topical microbicides and oral pills known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP). In addition, we are working to increase the accessibility of existing prevention options that can be initiated by women, such as female condoms.

Increasing institutional support The Global Campaign works to create demand for and encourage investment in research and development of new HIV-prevention technologies among policymakers, opinion leaders, and the general public. It works collaboratively with civil society, researchers, policymakers, and industry to develop and share resources, inform and develop policy, identify and promote better practices, and build and strengthen the capacity of the HIV-prevention field.

Unlike that of other health products, the development of HIV-prevention products has not been driven by the pharmaceutical industry. Large pharmaceutical companies are often reluctant to invest in products for which the market is unproven. In the absence of their investment, progress in HIV-prevention product research depends on mobilizing political will for public investment. The efforts of the Global Campaign and our partners in the United States, Canada, and Europe have advanced the microbicides field’s trial activities. And now the organization’s attention has turned toward expanding advocacy capacity in Africa, building awareness of the need for new HIV-prevention methods on the continent hardest hit by HIV. The Global Campaign works with communities and policymakers to improve awareness of —and to secure support for— these new technologies. (2010)

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