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Women soon to take charge of prevention methods against HIV
Chinowaita, Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN)
from WASN Newsletter - March 2005
against HIV has long been male territory. Commonly used male condoms
may only be used with men’s compliance, leaving women almost no
chance to protect them.
half of all new HIV infections worldwide now occur in women, while
vaccines still remain a relatively distant hope.
women will soon have more ways to get on top of this unfair situation,
promised scientists and delegates at the 15th International AIDS
Conference in Bangkok held last year.
now, female condoms have been the only women initiated protection,
but high prices have so far prevented them from becoming widely
available, despite acceptability among women in many countries.
That is set to change very soon.
research has been done on new prototypes of much cheaper female
condoms. I think we are going to see them in the next year (this
year),” said Dr Helen Reese of South Africa’s University of the
Zimbabwe one female controlled device that has proved effective
in protecting women from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections
(STIs), as well as unwanted pregnancy, is the female condom. Yet
this device remains highly under-utilised and inaccessible to the
Women and AIDS Support Network (WASN), which is among the organisations
that spearheaded the battle for the introduction of the device on
the local market in 1996, is disappointed that the female condom
has remained largely under-utilised, while it is virtually unknown
in some pockets of the country such as the rural areas. In addition,
it is highly inaccessible because of its restrictive price. The
female condom remains a mystery and unpublicised, yet this is an
empowering tool for women.
Bangkok AIDS conference also brought out that diaphragms, routinely
used in pregnancy prevention, are being evaluated for their potential
to prevent HIV infection, as scientists have recently discovered
that the cervix is more vulnerable to infection than the vagina.
may be used discreetly, without a partner’s knowledge, unlike female
condoms. “Dr Reese did note that some women reported their men are
often too drunk to notice the difference anyway.”
those women who want to have children, the price of conception may
no longer be certain infection.
studies of topical microbicides have reached the late stages and
will likely bear fruit in a few more years. Even a modestly efficacious
microbicides could save millions of lives, not just of women, but
of their partners and children, too.
under investigation is the anti-retroviral drug tenofovir as pre-exposure
prophylaxis against HIV.
we meet again in Toronto (at the 2006 AIDS Conference), we are going
to have exciting information about the results of these studies,”
said Dr Helene Gayle from the Bill and Melinda Foundation, which
funds the investigation said in Bangkok.
is hoped that these preventative measures can soon be applied synergistically
to offer a previously unattainable high level of protection for
half of the world’s population.
Extracts of the story obtained from The Nation newspaper of Bangkok,Thailand.
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