Research shows that HIV infections in Zimbabwe affect women more, compared to men. It is estimated that 1,3 million people live with HIV in Zimbabwe. Of these 200 000 are children.
It is estimated that 730 000 women live with HIV. This gives HIV the face of a woman. In 2018, 19 000 women were infected compared to 14 000 men (UNAIDS 2018).
Most women have no power to demand safe sex from their partners.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently announced that the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring is successful in preventing HIV transmission. The ring is inserted into the vagina and lasts for 28 days, providing maximum protection against HIV. However, it does not protect one from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
Thousands of women globally have great need to access the ring under guidelines. However, women should be given options to choose.
Zimbabwe took part in the clinical trials with a total of 600 women participating.
Dr Nyaradzo Mgodi, a local researcher with the University of Zimbabwe was pleased with the milestone.
Informing journalists over a webinar during the weekend, Dr Mgodi urged the media to disseminate the news in an informative manner.
“This is a significant milestone for the HIV prevention field. We need different options for preventing HIV infection, to allow women best choices for their circumstances.
“As a researcher I am pleased, I did my part, Zimbabwe was part of the research. As media, the ball is in your court, you are advocates, call for access, affordability and HIV prevention gains pace,” she said.
The dapivirine ring is not yet available in Zimbabwe. It will go through the rigorous process of approval through the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) before it can be accessed by women.