Globally, 25 percent of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases occur among young women and adolescent girls in Africa. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, prevents infection when taken consistently, but stigma around the disease prevents some young women from maintaining usage, according to a new review by researchers at the University of Washington.
Results indicate that community and peer support, along with longer-lasting drug alternatives, will be essential to combating HIV infection in this population. “We need to find ways to deliver PrEP to women where they can feel comfortable that they’re not being judged based on their sexual behavior,” said lead author Dr. Connie Celum, a professor of global health and medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington Schools of Public Health and Medicine.
The review, published July 22 in the Journal of the International Aids Society, is a consolidation of Dr. Celum’s research on PrEP promotion and delivery in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe with other similar studies. The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Co-authors include Jared Beaten, Elizabeth Bukusi and Ruanne Barnabas from the UW; Sinéad Delany-Moretlwe from Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute in South Africa; Ariane van der Straten from the Women’s Global Health Imperative in San Francisco; Sybil Hosek from the Stroger Hospital Department of Psychiatry; Margaret McConnell from Harvard University; and Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 13