HIV and Aids researchers are looking into possibilities of developing prevention products that can also be used to prevent pregnancies, a local researcher has revealed.
Speaking to commercial sex workers in Harare last Wednesday, Dr Nyaradzo Mgodi, director for a collaboration project between the University of Zimbabwe and the University of California-San Francisco, said previous studies showed that women were more worried of getting pregnant than being infected by HIV.
Dr Mgodi said studies showed that African women had problems taking prevention products on a daily basis and preferred products they could take once for a long period of time.
“We are in the process of coming up with something that is more user friendly. We also need to find out products that prevent both pregnancy and HIV,” said Dr Mgodi.
These studies included the VOICE study — an acronym for Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic, which was conducted in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda and Malawi.
The VOICE study involved trial of two anti-retroviral drugs Tenofovir and Truvada, which were being assessed to see if they can protect women from acquiring HIV from an infected partner.
In Africa, this study showed no significant benefit in protecting women — a result researchers claimed was because women were not using the products at all because they were daily dosages.
In contrast, Dr Mgodi said in other parts of the world where women were believed to be taking the drugs daily as prescribed, the ARVs proved to be effective for use as post exposure prophylaxis. She said these new products could come in different dimensions ranging from barriers and caps — for men and diaphragms, gels and or rings for women.
“If proven to work, these new prevention products will be something that will revolutionalise the epidemic among women.” Dr Mgodi said although a vaccine was the ultimate answer to HIV, researchers were far from getting one.