Microbicides & the MDGs

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Photo: BartCo/iStockPhoto

The ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis presents a huge challenge to global efforts to reduce poverty, fight inequality, and improve quality of life for people worldwide.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) reflect a broad international commitment to a healthier, more just world.

Adopted in 2001, the MDGs comprise eight targets that the international community has committed to meet by 2015 to create a better future for all people. But the world is not on track to meet most of them, and the ongoing spread of HIV/AIDS is a primary reason.

In regions with high prevalence, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemic decreases life expectancy and targets people at their most productive age, which hampers economic growth and development.

The disproportionate impact of HIV on women in many parts of the world also hinders efforts to address gender inequality.

How will microbicides support the MDGs?

Seven of the eight MDGs directly impact women, maternal and child health—all of which cannot be achieved without easing the burden of HIV/AIDS and specifically its impact on women. Innovative HIV prevention strategies that empower women, such as microbicides, could dramatically improve the world’s chances of meeting the MDGs.

MDG 1: PovertyGoal 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger: Rural women are responsible for producing half of the world’s food and between 60 and 80 percent of food in most developing countries. But production suffers when women fall ill from HIV-related complications or need to stop working to take care of family members infected with HIV. Reducing HIV infection in women and girls could play a critical role in allowing women to break out of poverty.

MDG 2: EducationGoal 2: Achieving universal primary education: When a parent becomes ill or dies, girls are more likely than boys to leave school to provide care or to take over agricultural- and income-support roles that will sustain their families. Reducing the spread of HIV is critical to keeping girls in school and improving their chances of a better life.

MDG 3: Gender equalityGoal 3 and MDG 5: Maternal Mortality reductionGoal 5: Promoting gender equality and empowering women, and improving maternal health: A large body of evidence shows that sexual and reproductive health and rights are central to a woman’s ability to build on her capabilities and control her destiny. Additionally, HIV/AIDS is one of the leading causes of death for mothers and pregnant women. Giving women and mothers greater power to protect themselves from HIV could make it so women do not have to risk death to have a family.

MDG 4: Infant Mortality reductionGoal 4: Reducing child mortality: Globally, AIDS is responsible for about 3 percent of child deaths. Women who can protect themselves against HIV infection can preserve their families, reduce the number of children born with HIV, and decrease the number of orphaned children.

MDG 6: HIV/AIDS reductionGoal 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases: With women often bearing the brunt of the HIV burden, empowering women to protect themselves from infection could have a significant impact on halting the further spread of HIV.

MDG 8Goal 8: Developing a global partnership for development: Ensuring that new HIV prevention technologies such as microbicides are approved for use and distributed to those women most in need requires coordination from all levels of the international community.