FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
24 July 2020 (Ottawa, ON) – ICAD congratulates the International Partnership on Microbicides (IPM) on its announcement today that the European Medicine’s Agency (EMA) has issued a positive opinion on the dapivirine ring for use by cisgender women ages 18 and older in developing countries to reduce their risk of HIV-1 infection. This announcement is a turning point in the long path towards providing women with an efficacious and affordable HIV prevention option over which they have full control.
The EMA’s opinion is a game changer and we extend a heartfelt congratulations to the scientists, advocates, policy makers, regulators, community members and most of all, to the women who participated in the clinical trials that got us to today’s announcement.
IPM’s monthly vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral (ARV) drug dapivirine helps protect women against HIV transmission through vaginal sex. Women insert the flexible ring themselves into the vagina, where it slowly releases dapivirine, and replace it every month. The ring has been shown to be well-tolerated and to reduce the risk of HIV infection in clinical trials with women. The positive opinion from the EMA will facilitate a decision by the WHO on the ring’s prequalification, a designation that many national regulatory authorities in Africa use to determine their own product approvals.
“The EMA’s opinion is a game changer and we extend a heartfelt congratulations to the scientists, advocates, policy makers, regulators, community members and most of all, to the women who participated in the clinical trials that got us to today’s announcement,” says Robin Montgomery, ICAD’s Executive Director.
Women in sub-Saharan Africa remain at an alarming risk of HIV infection due to biology and gender inequities. The number of new HIV cases continues to challenge the world’s ability to contain the epidemic. Treatment has been revolutionary, but treatment alone is not the solution. According to UNAIDS, the estimated 1.7 million people who acquired HIV worldwide in 2019 marked a 23% decline in new HIV infections since 2010, but was more than three times higher than the milestone of 500 000 that was set for 2020. HIV remains the leading cause of death for women ages 15-44 worldwide.
Women need HIV prevention products that fit into their lives and meet their individual needs, which change over time and over one’s life course. While some women are able to negotiate condom use or use the daily antiretroviral (ARV) pill/pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), others are not. Because no one product will suit everyone, women need a range of options they can choose from to help reduce their HIV risk.
“The feminization of HIV is exacerbated by the feminization of COVID-19. We are seeing increases in gender-based violence, and decreases in women’s earning power which has the potential to lead to increased behaviours that can place a woman at higher risk of contracting HIV, such as transactional and intergenerational sex. Now more than ever, we need to get tools into women’s hands that will allow them to protect themselves from HIV. Donor countries, including Canada, need to ensure that investment in the dapivirine ring is sufficient and sustained so this crucial prevention option ends up in the hands of all women who need it most,” says Montgomery.
The Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD) is a registered Canadian charity based in Ottawa, Ontario representing a large coalition of over 100 Canadian HIV and AIDS organizations, international development non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, labour unions, and individuals. ICAD provides leadership in the response of Canadian international development organizations and Canadian HIV organizations in reducing the impact of the global HIV and AIDS epidemic.
Shayna Buhler, Senior Program Officer
Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD)
Tel: 613-233-7440 ext. 114