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Archives for Women

Evidence Shows Historic Breakthrough Can Save Lives

Carol is in her mid-20s and raising her young daughter on her own.  With very few economic options available to her she turned to commercial sex work when she was 21 years old. Every day she puts herself at risk of HIV, other STIs, and unintended pregnancy. Because of a USAID-funded campaign, Carol knows she needs to use condoms to protect herself but as a commercial sex worker she does not always have the negotiating power to do so.

Often at USAID we support the ABC approach- abstain, be faithful, and correct and consistent condom use. While these methods can be effective in preventing HIV transmission, often it can be difficult for women to negotiate prevention interventions. With women representing nearly 60 percent of those living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, it is imperative to find a method of prevention that can be initiated by women.

Women participating in the CAPRISA 004 trial in the CAPRISA Vulindlela Clinic in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa

Women participating in the CAPRISA 004 trial in the CAPRISA Vulindlela Clinic in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa

For almost 25 years, USAID has been on the frontlines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Our development programs have been cutting-edge, and have long put women at the center of programming. Gender, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, male circumcision, counseling and testing, nutrition, and HIV vaccine research are just some of the comprehensive array of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs administered through USAID.

Progressive programs continue today with the USAID-funded clinical trial, CAPRISA 004. The trial, which took place in South Africa, provided the first evidence that use of a vaginal gel, or microbicide, containing an antiretroviral drug (ARV) known as tenofovir can prevent HIV infection in women.

Tenofovir gel is a clear, colorless, and odorless viscous gel in single-dose plastic applicators

Tenofovir gel is a clear, colorless, and odorless viscous gel in single-dose plastic applicators

In the trial, tenofovir gel administered topically before and after sexual activity provided moderate protection in women at high risk of HIV infection. At the end of the study, researchers found that the use of 1% tenofovir gel by 889 women at high risk of HIV infection in Durban, South Africa proved the method to be 39 percent effective in reducing a woman’s risk of becoming HIV infected. The gel could be a unique HIV prevention tool for women who are not able to negotiate HIV prevention methods.

The successes of CAPRISA 004 ties in with the core principles of the U.S. Government’s Global Health Initiative (GHI). USAID is committed to a women- and girl- centered approach, creating a strong partnership with countries to sustain country ownership, and focusing on learning and accountability.

Once the results are confirmed through ongoing and future studies, USAID will work at every level to ensure women are able to access this unique form of prevention. This means Carol, and other women in developing nations, will have a form of protection against HIV that they can control and initiate. This new discovery puts the power of protection against HIV transmission in the hands of the woman and can ultimately save lives.

Changing Tides

Ifikhtar Ahmed is the marketing manager of I.A. Khan Enterprises, a home-based business that produces local delicacies like tangy pickles and sohan halwa, a popular dessert, in this central Punjabi city of four million.

And while Ifikhtar’s position as a manager would be considered normal by even the most traditional in Pakistan, what makes his role unusual is that the company’s managing director is his wife, Amna.

In this socially conservative country, few women venture into the mainstream workforce and contribute to the country’s economic growth. Most Pakistani husbands will not entertain the idea of ceding authority to make decisions, business or otherwise, to their wives. (Read more here.)

This Week at USAID – June 7, 2010

Currently leading the U.S. delegation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Board meeting in Rome, today Administrator Shah meets with the Executive Director of WFP, Deputy Director Generals of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Earl Gast will be sworn-in as the new USAID Mission Director to Afghanistan.

Several USAID officials will be speaking at the Women Deliver Conference at the Washington Convention Center. In addition, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health, Amie Batson, and the U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, will both speak at the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, TB and Malaria’s annual conference, also in Washington, DC.

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