Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden have all pledged to increase funding for the development of microbicides that can reduce or eliminate the transmission of HIV. Microbicides, which are still being developed and are not yet available to the public, refer to a range of products that can prevent the sexual transmission of diseases and infections when applied topically. Women, who might not always have the social or economic agency to insist that their partners wear condoms, can more easily control this form of prevention, which can be produced in many forms, including gels, creams, suppositories, films, or a sponge or ring that can be used for prolonged periods of time, according to the Global Campaign for Microbicides. Said Josee Verner, the Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, of the importance this product development for women, “With women and girls making up almost 60 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, promoting gender equality and women”s empowerment to address the feminization of HIV/AIDS is a key focus of our efforts to fight this deadly disease. Developing an effective microbicide” a means of preventing HIV infection that women can control” is key to this,” according to the International Partnership for Microbicides press release.
Population Action International estimates that $280 million is needed annually for the next five years in order to develop microbicides. Currently, funding stands at $168 million, with the US providing over $100 million. The increased support amounts to $4 million from Belgium, $13.2 million from Canada, $15.7 million over four years from the Netherlands, and $2.17 million. Fifty-two members of Congress have co-sponsored a bill introduced by Representative Chris Shays (R-CT) that prioritizes funding and support for microbicide development.
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