Our interventions should ensure young women are in control of their HIV protection: SAMCRA

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The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) says young women should educate themselves on ways in which they can protect themselves from HIV/Aids. This as people across the globe commemorate World AIDS Day on Tuesday.

The Director of the HIV Prevention Unit at the SAMRC, Dr Ameena Goga says, “We need to focus particularly on interventions that women can control. The dapivirine ring is one of them, the cabotegravir injectable is being tested as another intervention. And just looking at the figures, we have about 460 adolescent girls who become HIV infected each day. There is a figure that says 59% of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa are in young women. But it brings to the fore that our efforts need to be targeted towards making young women in control of their HIV protection modalities.”

SAMRC says, although there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, scientists and researchers worldwide are working around the clock towards researching the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Significant advances in HIV/AIDS  with Prof Ameena Goga: 

Major breakthrough in HIV prevention

Recently, Wits researchers made a breakthrough in the prevention of this illness among women by coming up with an injection that is over 90% more effective than the oral pill currently on the market. This was unheard of years ago, especially in a country that has the highest number of people living with HIV.

“We investigating the issue of a cure, but in the meantime we have ARVs and we have new modalities coming onto the market. We have antibody therapy and we are expecting some very exciting results from the trials. We also have an antibody that we found specifically in the South African population and women which is currently being tested in South Africa. We are contributing to and testing in SA to make sure that despite the fact that we have not yet found a cure, we can make living with HIV normalised,” says Goga.

Universal access to health

In her message on Tuesday, the Executive Director for UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, warns that the world is in a dangerous place and that the months ahead will not be easy. 

“Women and girls must have their human rights fully respected, and the criminalisation and marginalisation of gay men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs must stop,” she says. 

“Our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic was already off track before COVID-19. We must put people first to get the AIDS response back on track. We must end the social injustices that put people at risk of contracting HIV. And we must fight for the right to health. There is no excuse for governments to not invest fully in universal access to health. Barriers such as up-front user fees that lock people out of health must come down,” she adds. 

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