NHVMAS has revealed a biomedical toolkit aimed at preventing HIV in women.

Busy Bee
Busy Bee November 30, 2023
Updated 2023/11/30 at 10:01 AM

In Nigeria, where the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) epidemic ranks third globally, there is an urgent need for accessible and controllable HIV prevention methods for women. Shockingly, recent revelations indicate that the country is home to 1.9 million people living with HIV and AIDS. The 2018 Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) reported a national HIV prevalence of 1.4% among adults aged 15 and above, with a higher prevalence among women (1.8%) compared to men (1.0%). Particularly alarming is the prevalence among young women aged 20-24, which is over double that of their male counterparts, peaking at 3.1% among 35-39-year-old women.

In response to this sobering statistic, the New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society (NHVMAS) is taking proactive measures. They organized a three-day journalist training event with the theme: “Understanding and Reporting NPT Research.” The goal is to address the challenge head-on by promoting awareness about HIV/AIDS through research facts and advocating for the widespread adoption of new prevention technology (NPT) by the government, ensuring its accessibility for all.

Among the groundbreaking HIV prevention products highlighted are oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), dapivirine vaginal rings, vaccines, CAB/injectable PrEP, microbicides, and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Medical professionals hail these advancements as a significant milestone in the fight against HIV, providing people with a broader range of choices in safeguarding their health. The NHVMAS’s strategic initiative aims to empower journalists to disseminate accurate information, contributing to increased awareness and the advocacy necessary for the widespread adoption of these transformative prevention methods.

Florita Durueke, the Executive Director of NHVMAS, emphasized the transformative impact of this biomedical toolkit, stating that it empowers women with more options and increased control to protect themselves from the virus. Durueke highlighted a pressing issue, pointing out that many women face heightened vulnerability to various infections due to social disadvantages, limiting their ability to negotiate the use of essential HIV prevention tools like condoms, practicing abstinence, or maintaining mutual monogamy.

She further underscored the stark reality that women are disproportionately exposed to HIV during sexual encounters compared to men, citing factors such as the larger volume of semen compared to vaginal fluid and the higher concentration of HIV found in semen. The new biomedical toolkit, by providing a range of prevention methods, seeks to address these disparities and empower women in safeguarding their sexual health.

“Enhancing the array of HIV prevention tools contributes to the normalization of HIV prevention efforts. The dapivirine vaginal ring offers an additional choice for women seeking protection against HIV transmission. When used consistently and effectively, this flexible silicone ring, designed for one-month use, gradually releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine, thereby reducing the risk of HIV infection. Drawing from the successes observed in family planning initiatives, the availability of multiple prevention options tends to foster increased adoption of prevention methods on a broader scale.

Modeling studies underscore the necessity for a diverse range of prevention options to effectively curb the HIV epidemic. Consequently, products like the dapivirine ring possess the potential for a significant positive impact on public health when integrated into a comprehensive prevention strategy.

The anticipated approval and successful implementation of the ring would not only broaden choices but also contribute to a higher number of women adopting and successfully utilizing HIV prevention methods. Recognizing the importance of women-centric approaches, the introduction of innovative options such as the dapivirine ring plays a pivotal role in advancing efforts toward achieving control over the HIV epidemic.”

Oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves the utilization of HIV prevention medications, specifically antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), by individuals who are HIV negative. This strategy aims to prevent the acquisition of HIV before any potential exposure to the virus. In contrast, Long-Acting Injectable refers to antiretroviral drugs administered through injections, designed to persist in the bloodstream for an extended period.

Among the notable long-acting injectable formulations are cabotegravir-LA and Ripivirine. These formulations have undergone testing for long-acting PrEP in individuals who are HIV-negative, demonstrating their efficacy in preventing HIV acquisition. The administration of these injections occurs at a frequency of every two months. This innovative approach is anticipated to enhance adherence to the preventive regimen, offering a more convenient and manageable option for individuals seeking HIV protection.

During his presentation, Richard Benson, the Project Officer, emphasized the ongoing challenges in Nigeria regarding access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for individuals at substantial risk of HIV infections. Benson highlighted that the current prioritization in the country primarily focuses on couples in HIV serodiscordant relationships, leaving other high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals, struggling to access PrEP.

Providing insight into the state of PrEP scale-up, registration, and available resources in Nigeria, Benson revealed that there are an estimated 400-600 current PrEP users. However, he stressed the need for a broader approach, advocating for the inclusion of adolescents in the prioritization for PrEP access.

During the presentation, Comrade Gilbert Success, known as UNIBEN Oracle, Comrade Gerald Nnamdi, and Comrade Happiness Ugheghele, representing the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and executive members of various university departments, expressed their collective support for the governorship aspiration of Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu. The group, comprising both past and present NANS leaders, gathered at Shaibu’s campaign office in Benin to pledge their endorsement of his candidacy.

In their statements, the speakers underscored their backing for Deputy Governor Shaibu’s ambition, symbolizing a significant boost to his 2024 governorship aspirations. The show of support from these student leaders and representatives reflects a growing momentum and endorsement from the youth and student community, a crucial demographic in any political campaign.

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