Although important strides have been made in HIV treatment, HIV prevention continues to be great a challenge. Approximately 1.5 million people acquire HIV annually – about 4,000 every day.
Efforts to promote abstinence, monogamy, and condom use have not been enough to stop the epidemic. For many people, these approaches are not practical. Biomedical options like oral and injectable PrEP are extremely safe and effective, but HIV prevention is not one-size-fits-all. Microbicides represent another option for preventing HIV transmission.
Microbicides are products applied inside the vagina or rectum to prevent HIV transmission through sex. Most microbicides that are being tested include antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, which fight the virus. There are several types of microbicides in development and testing today.
So far, one microbicide product has been approved in some countries for cisgender women to use: the dapivirine vaginal ring for HIV prevention. Finding more microbicide products that are safe and effective would be very important to the global response against HIV/AIDS, especially for populations who face structural factors that increase their likelihood of acquiring HIV. These include adolescents; Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; cisgender women; men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs; pregnant and breastfeeding people; and transgender people.
“Microbicides are potentially just one tool in a whole armamentarium of different potential strategies to combat HIV transmission.”
“Some products are women-centered where we may be able to take some type of gel and use it to prevent transmission. We could use it discreetly and insert it in our own bodies.”