Due to challenges in access and sustained adherence to proper use of existing HIV prevention products, such as condoms, voluntary medical male circumcision, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and treatment as prevention (TasP), the current HIV prevention toolkit continues to fall short in curbing HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) and female sex workers (FSWs). In sub-Saharan Africa, AGYW aged 15-24 years are twice as likely to be living with HIV as men in the same age group.
LONG-ACTING ANTIRETROVIRAL BASED TECHNOLOGIES
Long-acting (LA) antiretroviral-based technologies represent a promising avenue for HIV prevention. Recent results from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) HPTN 083 study demonstrated LA injectable cabotegravir used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to be highly effective in preventing HIV acquisition in women in sub-Saharan Africa. Future LA antibody-based technologies are also being explored.
Several innovative LA-PrEP technologies and products in early development are poised to incorporate UPTAKE study results to ensure they are designed, developed, and delivered with the fewest barriers to access and greatest potential for adherence and impact.
LEVERAGING SOCIO-BEHAVIOURAL RESEARCH
Socio-behavioural research (SBR) is a scientific enquiry which measures, describes, explains, and predicts changes in social and economic structures, attitudes, values, and behaviours and the factors which motivate and constrain individuals and groups in society. Incorporating SBR within HIV prevention programmes and clinical research creates an opportunity to strengthen evidence-based biomedical intervention design that helps address unmet needs of vulnerable communities, informed by their experiences and vulnerabilities, and in response to the unique needs of healthcare systems.