Today is the World Contraception Day (WCD). Its mission is to improve awareness of all contraception methods by sharing research that enables young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
There is no better time to celebrate the importance of family planning in the lives of people around the world. In recent decades, there have been significant advancements in contraception access. Technology have expanded individuals’ ability to make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health. It is critical that advocates, policymakers, and other stakeholders work to maintain these hard-fought gains and drive new ones.
One proven way to do this is to invest in research and development (R&D) of sexual and reproductive health interventions. This, in particular for innovative technologies that simultaneously offer pregnancy, HIV and other STI prevention. Such R&D support would impact the lives of millions of people here and abroad.
Contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy
The vast majority of unintended pregnancies are among people who are either not using any contraception or are using it inconsistently. Developing new contraceptive methods and modifying existing ones could helps women and their partners to feel more satisfied with their contraceptive choices. Moreover it could helps to be better equipped to prevent or space pregnancies.
HIV and other STI prevention:
Unintended pregnancy is not the only risk facing women. Better and more options are needed to sustain progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS; as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
One pathway to HIV prevention is to improve uptake and adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by exploring novel drug combinations and delivery methods. Researchers are investigating the safety and efficacy of a wide variety of long-acting methods, factors that affect adherence to oral PrEP, and the impact that taking the drug may have on patients’ lives. Having more, and better, prevention options can only improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for women around the globe.
The need for innovation is urgent. There are 214 million women of reproductive age around the world who want to avoid a pregnancy and are not using a modern contraceptive method. Globally, unintended pregnancies contribute to poor maternal and child health. HIV/AIDS also plays a significant role in the lives of women and girls around the world. There are 19.6 million women and girls living with HIV.
It is estimated that more than a million cases of STIs are acquired every day around the world. STIs can lead to cervical cancer, infertility, poor pregnancy and birth outcomes. It also increased risk of acquiring new or transmitting existing STIs, including HIV. Given the prevalence and risks of STIs, effective and varied prevention strategies are crucial.
New Prevention Methods and Progress
Multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) are products that simultaneously offer pregnancy, HIV and other STI prevention. Right now, women’s only options for simultaneous protection are external and internal condoms. These two options are likely not meeting all women’s needs or preferences. R&D supports the development of multiple types of MPTs that, together, could better address individuals’ needs and preferences.
Although there has been significant progress in the development of new prevention methods in recent years, continued support for R&D is critical. National governments have an important role to play in developing innovative and complex technologies. The profit potential of these drugs is uncertain and few pharmaceutical companies are developing them.