In his April 22 op-ed, “Cultural factors in the HIV crisis,” Michael Gerson made a powerful case that the HIV crisis among young women in Africa deserves Americans’ attention. Important HIV prevention programs funded by U.S. taxpayers can significantly reduce new infections among vulnerable girls and women so they can stay healthy and thrive.
Another way Americans give women in Africa hope to remain HIV-free: Federally supported biomedical research has accelerated the discovery of a daily pill and a discreet monthly vaginal ring that can reduce HIV risk. The daily pill is approved in South Africa but not yet in wide use by women, and the long-acting vaginal ring recently showed promise in clinical trials, though further research and regulatory approval are needed before the ring can reach women.
There will be no silver bullet to stop HIV. A combination of programs such as DREAMS and new female-initiated prevention tools are needed. Continued U.S. investment in the development of HIV prevention tools would make a big difference for women in Africa.
Zeda Rosenberg, Silver Spring
The writer is founding chief executive of the International Partnership for Microbicides.