A global advocacy group for HIV Prevention, AVAC has called on all health funders, governments and community leaders to continue supporting the introduction and rollout of Dapivirine Ring’s in sub-Saharan Africa.
This comes after PEPFAR and USAID were stopping their support for the Dapivirine ring rollout.
In a statement, AVAC noted that there was resounding support from key stakeholders and governments in sub-Saharan Africa towards ensuring the adoption of the Dapirivine ring.
“USAID has indicated they will no longer support research and development of the three-month ring, which could be a significant additional option to increase acceptance and ease of use and to reduce the cost for a year of protection by two-thirds.
“We acknowledge the decision taken by the International Partnership for Microbicides, which developed the Dapivirine ring, to withdraw its application for the ring approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in December 2021 after feedback from the FDA that they are unlikely to support US approval at this time because of the perceived lack of relevance to the US epidemic,” reads the AVAC statement.
AVAC said this decision by USAID and PEPFAR primarily affects black and brown women as one of the communities with limited access to oral PrEP compared to other vulnerable groups.
“Women need more products than only limiting their choices to daily oral PrEP hence, we are concerned about the exclusion of the Dapivirine ring as an additional option for women. We will continue to push that all women globally have access to the Dapivirine ring,” added AVAC.
And, we call on all HIV programs, especially those already delivering oral PrEP in our countries and communities, to develop strategic introduction plans to integrate the ring.
However, this decision is now being seemingly applied to decisions to support African countries, several of which have already approved the use of the ring as an additional HIV option (namely South Africa and Zimbabwe) with many others on the cusp of approving the ring.
The recent results from the REACH study which studied informed choice including both ring and oral PrEP made this point unmistakable.
“Almost all of the 247 adolescent girls and young women in this study chose to use either the ring or oral PrEP when given a choice, with two-thirds of them choosing the ring. REACH shows the potential impact of what simply by allowing young women and girls the ability to choose, “
African feminists and advocates are also united in calling for continued political and financial support to introduce and roll out the monthly Dapivirine vaginal ring in sub-Saharan Africa, where the need for new women-centred prevention options remains public health, reproductive justice, and human rights imperative.