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H.I.V. and African Women

Bethany Young Holt, director of the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (IMPTs) at PHI's CAMI Health, wrote this letter to the editor published by the New York Times in response to an editorial about new evidence suggesting an intravaginal ring that slowly releases an antiretroviral drug could help protect women in Africa from HIV. She states that this ring is a welcome development, and that a range of options that provide simultaneous birth control and HIV prevention is needed.

To the Editor:

Re “Helping Women in Africa Avoid H.I.V.” (editorial, Feb. 26):

You are correct that the development of an effective H.I.V. prevention ring that can combine with contraception cannot proceed soon enough. Although a very welcome development, the dapivirine ring is not the only device with potential for birth control-H.I.V. prevention.

Multipurpose Prevention Technologies, or M.P.T.s, are new methods in development that can deliver contraception with H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted disease prevention in various combinations. The dapivirine ring joins nearly a dozen potential M.P.T.s in early stage clinical trials.

The promise of combined prevention has led funding agencies, researchers and advocates from around the world to form a product neutral, multidisciplinary collaboration called the Initiative for M.P.T.s to accelerate and advance development.

Women’s ability to avoid H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases and determine pregnancy and child spacing brings undeniable social, economic and health benefits to women and families. Offering women a range of options that they themselves can control will enhance the health of women in Africa, and also in the United States, where unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates are as high as those in many developing countries.

BETHANY YOUNG HOLT

Folsom, Calif.

The writer is director of the Initiative for M.P.T.s, a project of CAMI Health, a nonprofit dedicated to the reproductive health of adolescent girls and women, where she is executive director.

Read the letter in the New York Times.

Originally published by New York Times


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