Technologies to prevent pregnancies, HIV and infections, all at the same time
Having a unique technology that is capable of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), would bring many benefits, not just health related for people, but economic and logistical for countries as well, the Unitaid organization pointed out in a press release.
Currently, the only method capable of fulfilling these multiple functions is the condom, but more than twenty new technologies are being studied that fulfill more than one function in the field of sexual and reproductive health, in the form of intravaginal rings, gels, implants and pills, among others.
On the subject, Unitaid, in collaboration with the Foundation for the Investment Fund for Children and the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies, published the Multipurpose prevention technologies. Technology outlook and potential for low- and middle-income countries report.
A single method, multiple protection
New preventive technologies should have a special emphasis on women, since in areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls accounted for 63% of new HIV infections during 2020. Furthermore, in low- and middle-income countries more than 200 Million women want to avoid pregnancy, but do not have access to contraception, Unitaid reports.
It is well known that negotiating the use of a condom with male partners is an obstacle for women to protect themselves from HIV and other infections, which is why methods being developed seek to facilitate self-care.
The report explains two types of technologies: topical, meaning those that are applied physically (vaginal rings, enemas, gels, vaginal films and soluble vaginal inserts), and systemic, meaning those that enter the body (in the form of pills, injectables, implants or patches).
In terms of their benefits, the technologies being investigated are classified into four prevention combinations:
- HIV and pregnancy
- HIV and STIs
- STIs and pregnancy
- HIV, STIs and pregnancy
Most of them are still under investigation in the laboratory, but a vaginal / rectal gel to prevent STIs and pregnancy is already in Phase 3 of investigation (it is being tested in humans) and a pill that prevents HIV and pregnancy is in the market pre-approval stage.
The report indicates that to implement these new technologies it is necessary to adapt the services currently being provided. For example, to stop separating family planning and HIV care, which would make it easier for people to understand these options and would lighten the burden on both health services.
While the prospects become a reality, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we can provide you with free condoms and free HIV tests, as well as information to protect your health. Come to our closest office in your country or write to us on WhatsApp.