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Empowering women living with HIV on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day – a time to celebrate the achievements of women but also a time to mark a call to action to help increase gender parity. At ViiV Healthcare, we want to highlight some of the challenges women living with HIV face today.  Equally, we want to help in the effort to empower vulnerable girls and women living with or affected by HIV, to live a fulfilling life and have the potential to achieve their ambition.

Contrary to popular belief, women are the main victims of HIV/AIDS in many parts of the world, and HIV/AIDS is the number one reason women aged 15-44 are dying globally.[i][ii] Girls and women also face many societal challenges when trying to protect themselves against the disease. Whether they are victims of gender-based violence or have limited access to healthcare and education, the situation is often aggravated by systems and policies that neglect the needs of women.[iii]

Recognising the plight of women impacted by HIV, we look for opportunities to help reduce the burden of HIV for girls and women through our community. We have created a new Positive Action for Girls and Women programme that aspires to help tackle the harmful cultural norms that limit the aspirations of girls and women, and increase their vulnerability to HIV. 

With a commitment of £2 million per year, over the next five years (2015-2020), we are supporting community responses that aim to change attitudes, behaviours and interventions to improve health and rights for girls and women.

One of our grantees, Tackle Africa, is working exclusively to educate women on HIV and sexual & reproductive health (see case-study box).

Our research and development efforts also endeavour to increase female representation in our clinical trials process.

Kimberly Smith, Vice President for Global Strategy and Head of Research and Development, ViiV Healthcare, explains our tailored approach in R&D:

“When it comes to research in HIV, women have been somewhat neglected; they have not been well represented in clinical trials and questions that are most relevant to women are often the last ones that get answered. We are trying to address this by including more women in our clinical trials and by working to make treatments more effective and easier to take.”

Despite the advances made in HIV over the past 30 years, girls and women in many regions of the world have to a great extent been neglected. Working in collaboration with organizations close to these issues and as a company, we are determined to reduce the impact of the HIV epidemic worldwide by continuing to support the alleviation of girls’ and women’s vulnerability to HIV. We know more must be done and ViiV Healthcare is striving to make a real difference and leave no patient behind.

For more information on our Positive Action Girls and Women programme, visit: https://www.viivhealthcare.com/community-partnerships/positive-action-for-girls-women/about.aspx

 

Tackle Africa: Making a real difference to young women through sport

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to more than two thirds of all people living with HIV. In Kilifi, Kenya, nearly 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and almost six percent of young women aged 15-24 are living with HIV, triple the number of men living with the disease of the same age.[1]

Tackle Africa has a unique approach to educating young girls, using the power and popularity of football to deliver HIV and sexual & reproductive health education across the continent. Over the next three years, the organisation will train 120 football coaches to reach 6,000 young women and inform them on how to make healthy, safe decisions about their sexual and reproductive health through football drills.

Each drill contains a sexual health message about HIV that unfolds as they play, in a way that young people enjoy, remember and understand. These interactive and fun messages help educate and challenge young players to make the best decisions they can, with the goal of limiting the impact of HIV in their families and communities.

 

[i] AmfAR. Statistics: Women and HIV/AIDS. Available at: http://www.amfar.org/about-hiv-and-aids/facts-and-stats/statistics--women-and-hiv-aids/. Last accessed: February 2016

[ii] WHO. Women’s health. Fact sheet N°334. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs334/en/. Last accessed: February 2016

[iii] UNAIDS. The Gap Report. Available at: http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/unaidspublication/2014/UNAIDS_Gap_report_en.pdf. Last accessed: February 2016

Phase II/III clinical development pipeline

ProductClassPhase

dolutegravir/rilpivirine* STR

Integrase inhibitor/NNRTI

III

LA cabotegravir + LA rilpivirine*

(for intramuscular injection)

Integrase inhibitor + NNRTI

IIb

(for treatment of HIV infection)

LA cabotegravir

(for intramuscular injection)

Integrase inhibitor

IIa

(for prevention of HIV infection)