Contraception and HIV/AIDS Risk Reduction Overview
Women’s controlled contraception and HIV/AIDS protection represents a significant need and an opportunity to strengthen health systems globally by improving clinical outcomes and saving lives.
There are approximately 34 million cases of HIV worldwide with 1.7 AIDS-related deaths each year. Approximately 70% of all people living with HIV reside in sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of HIV infections in developing countries are contracted by women, who are especially vulnerable to the disease because of physiological and cultural reasons. At the same time they face challenges to prevent unintended pregnancies, which account for nearly half of maternal deaths.
To date, prevention strategies have focused largely on single indications, namely, the prevention of unintended pregnancy, or prevention of reproductive tract diseases, often referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This approach does not adequately recognize the intrinsic link between unintended pregnancy and STDs: a woman at risk of pregnancy is often simultaneously at risk of an STD, including HIV. Thus, there is a critical need for multipurpose prevention technologies that will allow people to avoid more than one adverse health outcome.
Controlled-release delivery systems addressing multiple sexual and reproductive health needs could offer women highly acceptable, woman-controlled approaches to life-saving prevention, as well as substantial savings of time and money for users.
There has been renewed interest in the use of dual-purpose, vaginal methods over the past few years, prompted by the desire for woman-controlled non-invasive methods of contraception that simultaneously prevent transmission of HIV. Worldwide, use of relatively less effective, non-hormonal barrier contraceptives is currently estimated at about five percent.