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UNITAID highlight challenges of HIV prevention scale-up

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013

Thousands of new HIV infections could be averted annually if more HIV prevention tools were made more affordable, according to a new UNITAID report on HIV prevention products. The report entitled ‘HIV Preventives Technology and Market Landscape’ is the first fully comprehensive analysis of the market for HIV prevention commodities, and looks at how scaling up critical HIV prevention tools in countries where they are most needed, are ultimately inhibited by price, low manufacturing capacity and low demand.

Research and development into biomedical interventions have greatly expanded the HIV prevention toolbox over recent years, however many of these commodities remain out of reach for the world’s poorest. The report looks specifically at biomedical interventions, including male and female condoms, male circumcision devices, microbicides, antiretroviral-based interventions such as treatment as prevention, and harm reduction commodities such as needle syringes, and explores how market-based interventions could fill access gaps.

Particularly, monopolies remain a major problem for access. For example, PrePex, a simple, non-surgical male circumcision device, is currently priced so it is not cost effective compared to traditional surgery. UNITAID have called on more competitors to enter the market to drive the price down and enable large-scale rollout of circumcision programmes.

UNITAID also reported on the gap in HIV prevention interventions that are initiated by woman, as commented by Executive Director, Dr Denis Broud “There is an acute shortage of affordable prevention products for women and girls - this must change.” For example, female condoms are up to 20 times more expensive than male condoms, and have a low acceptance rate compared to male condoms - they comment that there is space for further innovation in this area to improve both on cost and acceptability.

Female condoms present an opportunity that many women are missing, often because they are not widely stocked or marketed. A lack of information and guidance also means that women can find this method difficult to use. To mark Global Female Condom Day (16 September), AVERT have interviewed Judy Silwana, from one of our partner organisations and a leading advocate for female condoms in South Africa. Read the interview here to learn more about her campaign.