New HIV/AIDS prevention measures known as microbicides are set to be introduced for women, should they prove to be effective after trials.
This was revealed Thursday by Evelyne Kestelyn, the Scientific Manager of Project Ubuzima, an international non-government organisation that promotes reproductive health and HIV prevention.
According to Kestelyn, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) will consider two forms of microbicides, a gel and a ring.
“The trials which will begin in November will be for the gel. The vaginal microbicides are products that help women to protect themselves against HIV, but research is ongoing globally. This is a new way that could save millions of lives: mothers, daughters, wives and sisters.
“Initially microbicides studied were typically gels that were used at the time of sex but the new gels set to be tried here are based on ARVs, hold great promise for preventing HIV infections and can be inserted for a longer period of time,” she explained to the press.
Dr. Justin Ntirushwa also noted that research for new prevention measures, specifically for women, came up due to the fact that most women may fail to negotiate safer sex with men.
“In sub- Saharan Africa, women and girls already account for 60 percent of the people living with HIV.
New methods will enable these women to take control of their lives. Once the microbicides are inserted by the user, the partner cannot know even during intercourse.
Officials noted that the first trials will be done in Kigali on about 800 women for a period of 28 days. Close follow up on the women and girls will be done in a bid to determine how users respond to the new products.
“Results from the previous study of the HIV incidence in Rwanda show that four out of 100 women can get infected with HIV annually which is a big number.
This research is good because participants will get collateral benefits too.
“We will follow up on them, give them any kind of treatment required during the trial period and close follow up after. Only HIV negative women and girls in healthy condition and not pregnant will be considered,” Prof. Joseph Vyankandodera, an expert with the project added.
Officials noted that the new methods will not replace the existing preventive measures, but will instead compliment behaviour change, abstinence, male and female condoms, male circumcision and others like HIV vaccines.