Pangaea Zimbabwe Aids Trust (PZAT) has demanded that married women be included under key populations due to their limited capacity to negotiate for sex sex with their partners who are now ‘blessers’ to young women.
Addressing journalists during a Pangaea Zimbabwe Aids Trust(PZAT) meeting on HIV prevention in Harare today, Joseph Murungu, Senior Technical Advisor at PZAT said married women find it hard to negotiate for safe sex increasing their chances of contracting HIV.
“Recently when we analyzed our statistics on who is at risk of getting HIV and why, we found out that the highest number is married women. They are at risk more as they will be home trusting their partners who are going around with other women hence bringing HIV into the relationship. They should be under key populations,” Murungu.
Definate Nhamo from PZAT also explained that intimate partner violence also puts most women at risk of HIV.
“There is a lot of force involved which leaves some powerless to negotiate for safer sex. They can also get bruises and cuts in the process hence putting them at risk of contracting HIV,” he said.
Meanwhile, the recently approved Dapivirine or Vaginal Ring has expanded HIV prevention options for women who are at risk of contracting HIV.
The dapivirine vaginal ring for cis-gender women and the long-acting injectable cabotegravir (CAB-LA) have the capacity to further reduce new HIV infections.
The Dapivirine vaginal ring is a flexible, silicone ring that a woman can insert in the vagina for monthly protection against HIV. The ring is designed to provide women with a discreet and long-acting option for HIV prevention. It contains the anti-retroviral drug dapivirine, which is released slowly to reduce the risk of HIV infection locally in the vagina with few effects elsewhere in the body.
The ring is clinically shown to reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection by about 30%. In addition, recent open-label studies suggest that HIV risk is reduced by about 50% with consistent use of the ring. No safety concerns related to Dapivirine ring use have been identified in previous and ongoing trials
Zimbabwe becomes the first country in the world to approve the use of the Dapivirine Ring. Other countries pursuing the Ring method include Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, and others.