Experts Urge for More Protection for Women Against AIDS

Several leading AIDS experts have called for an urgent increase in work on HIV killing gels that will help protect women from contracting the virus, especially in relationships where they cannot count on their partners to wear condoms. According to the Washington Post, gels and creams and the female condom could work to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS while the AIDS vaccine is being developed.

HIV killing gels, otherwise known as microbicides, can be applied hours before intercourse and can be used without a partner’s knowledge. However, the chief executive of International Partnership for Microbicides Dr. Zeda Rosenburg stated “unlike vaccines, there has been virtually no private sector investment in microbicide development,” reports the Washington Post. According to Rosenburg, $1 billion is needed for research to make an effective microbicide over the next five years.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Special Envoy on Aids Stephen Lewis recently stated that condoms still remain central in fighting the AIDS epidemic, reports All Africa. According to Lewis, abstinence is not a viable method to prevent the transmission of AIDS among vulnerable groups, such as women forced into marriage at a young age. Lewis asserts that “recent studies indicate prejudice against young women who are forced into marriage. Such people do not have the power to abstain.”

Despite statements by AIDS experts like Lewis that abstinence-only programs are not working, the Bush Administration continues to put emphasis on and funding for abstinence programs, not condoms, in preventing AIDS.

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Associated Press 7/15/04; All Africa 7/27/04

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