On International Women’s Day, Let’s #BreaktheBias in HIV/AIDS by Putting Women’s Voices Front and Center

March 8, 2022—This International Women’s Day, we are reflecting on what it takes to #BreakTheBias when it comes to women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. For decades, women have borne the brunt of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, a sign that we still have far to go in closing the gender gap in health outcomes. 

There is no one solution—but addressing gender inequities must be central to HIV/AIDS responses. Women are not only biologically more susceptible to HIV infection, but factors such as power imbalances in sexual relationships and gender-based violence can also increase their risk. 

At IPM, one way we work to overcome bias is to put women’s voices and needs at the center of everything we do. We’ve heard repeatedly from women that they want—and deserve—greater choice. They want a broader range of HIV prevention and other sexual and reproductive health products so they can choose one that fits their circumstances and lifestyles. 

It’s an exciting time in HIV prevention, with several effective methods already available or moving toward introduction. IPM’s monthly dapivirine vaginal ring, a long-acting method women can control and use discreetly to reduce their HIV risk, has been approved in several countries in eastern and southern Africa, with additional reviews underway in the region. Along with condoms, daily oral PrEP and a future bimonthly injectable now being submitted to regulatory agencies in Africa, women could one day soon have an array of HIV prevention options.

To get the HIV/AIDS epidemic among women under control, we must make every effort to #BreakTheBias that leaves women’s voices unheard and their needs unmet. That includes offering women a diverse range of prevention choices so they can protect their sexual and reproductive health on their own terms.