Implementing microbicides in low-income countries.
Gengiah, Tanuja Narayansamy.
Abdool Karim, Quarraisha.
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The magnitude of the global human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic is determined by women from lower income countries, specifically sub-Saharan Africa. Microbicides offer women who are unable to negotiate safe sex practices a self-initiated HIV prevention method. Of note, is its potential to yield significant public health benefits even with relatively conservative efficacy, coverage and user adherence estimates, making microbicides an effective intervention to invest scarce healthcare resources. Existing healthcare delivery systems provide an excellent opportunity to identify women at highest risk for infection and to also provide an access point to initiate microbicide use. Innovative quality improvement approaches, which strengthen existing sexual reproductive health services and include HIV testing, and linkages to care and treatment services, provide an opportunity to lay the foundations for wide-scale provision of microbicides. The potential to enhance health outcomes in women and infants and potentially affect rates of new HIV infection may soon be realised.