World AIDS Day 2020: Breakthroughs in Women’s HIV Prevention

December 1, 2020—This past year posed extraordinary challenges in global health, but today on World AIDS Day, we have reason to celebrate exciting news for women’s HIV prevention. 

This year, more people were able to access daily oral PrEP, and a large clinical trial (HPTN 084) found that a long-acting injectable ARV called cabotegravir, as well as PrEP, were both highly effective in reducing HIV risk among women in Africa. Here at IPM, we’re especially proud that the woman-centered product we developed, the dapivirine vaginal ring, received a positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency in July. And just days ago, the ring was prequalified by the World Health Organization. Both milestones move the product closer to being made available to women—and neither could have happened without the commitment and support of a global partnership of researchers, donors, advocates, and most importantly, the women who participated in the ring studies.

The monthly dapivirine ring offers women a long-acting method they can control and use discreetly to reduce their HIV risk. We are now seeking regulatory approvals for its use initially in eastern and southern Africa, where the need is urgent, and hope to begin making the product available in 2021. 

Together, these advances have the potential to transform the HIV prevention landscape for women. That’s important because in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 60% of all new adult infections are among women—whose need for more prevention options has gone unmet for far too long. 

Expanding women’s options so that they can choose the product that best meets their individual needs is essential to reducing new infections. No product is right for everyone. So whether women use a prevention method that is systemic or non-systemic, bi-monthly, monthly, daily or on-demand, the important thing is that they have a range of choices to help protect their sexual and reproductive health. 

Although there is still much work to be done to reach that vision, we’re optimistic today about what the future holds for women’s HIV prevention. 

From all of us at IPM, have a healthy World AIDS Day.