Empower Women with Microbicides

According to the AIDS Action Committee, about 14,000 people around the world will contract AIDS today. About half of them will be women and most of them live in developing countries. There are many reasons these women are more vulnerable to the disease besides little to no access to information about prevention.

One reason all women are at a higher risk for HIV is because the vagina is a easy place for germs to enter the body. However, women in the Global South are even more susceptible because of poor nutrition.

The second reason is the imbalance of power between the genders in in sexual and economic politics. Many cultures in Africa, Latin America and Asia are very patriarchal. It is still prevalant practice that woman only be allow to go into certain professions, many of which are low paying. Because of this this women are relegated to working in the sex industry to make ends meet for their families, especially if a husband is longer in the picture. In many cases prostitutes don't have any power because some of their customers refuse to use condoms. Even women who are in a higher economic bracket and may want to have voluntary sex, they either can't negotiate for safety or don't know how to go about it. The husbands of some of these women threaten to leave them if they ask them to use protection.

Women around the world are living in fear on a daily basis, not know if the next sexual encounter will be a death sentence.

Most people believe that abstaining from sex is the best way to be protected from HIV. The Bush administration's ABC policy (Abstainance, Be Faithful and Condom Use) is the best example of trying to teach this practice. But this is not realistic if women are forced, whether through economic status or trafficking, to go into prostitution or if they have unsympathetic husbands.

In an ideal world men would see women as precious and equal. But since this is not going to happen any time soon, women need to look at other ways to protect themselves.

Scientists are working on a new product that will help prevent the spread of HIV. Microbicides are gels, creams, forms, films and other products that a woman can put in her vagina or rectum before a sexual encounter and protect against sexual infection. Currently 14 types of microbicides have been tested. None of them have been perfected enough to be sold on the market yet. Four of the fourteen being tested are at the final phase of testing called "Effectivenes Trials." During these final trials, thousands of people in different parts of the world will try using the microbicides and see if they actually prevent HIV and other STDS. There are two types of microbicides being developed. One will protect against HIV, STDs and pregnancy and another will still protect against HIV and STDs but not prevent pregnancy. This way, women could get pregnant without getting HIV.

When Microbicides are finally approved for distribution, women can have an option to condoms. They wouldn't have to ask their male sexual partners to do anything. The men might not even know that the women are using a microbicides.

Scientists are seriously committed to making microcibides cheap and easily accessible for women around the world. With this said, it is important to state that microbicides will never fully replace condoms because of the different levels of protection. However, women will finally be empowered to take care of themselves and possibly help end the spread of AIDS.

To learn more about Microcibides, go to http://global-campaign.org/the_need.htm


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