Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) advocates say the dapivirine or vaginal ring is invaluable for women in preventing HIV transmission since it is hard for them to negotiate for safer sex.
The ring has since been approved for use in Zimbabwe by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ), says Senzeni Ncube writing for CITE.
Dapivirine is made of silicone and must be worn inside the vagina for a period of 28 days after which it should be replaced with a new ring.
Speaking during an online cross-border science media café involving Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda and Kenya, SRHR advocate, Chilufya Hampongo from Zambia said:
It’s a fact that HIV carries a face of a female, women are carrying a lot of burdens and we expect to see a lot of research centred on women so as to help them get through what they are going through. Women face unequal gender norms that limit their agency and the voice of women and girls.
We know it is very hard for women to negotiate for safer sex because the power struggle that exists even in homes for those that are married is something we can not even doubt, so the ring does not only speak to choose but also promotes body autonomy and integrity.
Women want options that are easy to use and very convenient for them without asking their partners.
Women have hope that the ring could solve some of the challenges which they face, when we asked them about efficacy levels, some echoed that 50 per cent efficacy is better than nothing at all because it is convenient and also the issue of adherence with oral prep has been an issue for women, so at this point we shouldn’t be downgrading one option over another because we will be doing a disservice to the people who we want to save.
A manager for advocacy and community outreach for the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) the developer/manufacturer, Sinazo Pato outlined the advantages of using dapivirine. Said Pato:
The ring is the first long-acting HIV prevention product that is women controlled, women can insert the ring on their own, in clinical trials they were taught, but follow-on rings they were able to insert it on their own in their homes, it is discreet, partners cannot feel it, you can go about your business with the ring, if you feel it, it means it’s not inserted properly.
The vaginal ring delivers, dapivirine, an antiretroviral drug slowly over the course of one month directly to the vaginal tissue to help protect against HIV at the site of potential infection.