Africa Needs Rectal Microbicides Too - Strategies to Ensure Africa is on the Rectal Microbicide Research and Advocacy Map
D79 Advocacy and lobbying by civil society, affected communities and PLWHA
J. Pickett1,2, M.-A. LeBlanc2, K. Audu2,3, C. Feuer4, T. Johnson5, B. Kanyemba6, T. Muyunga7, M. Ukpong8
1AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Advocacy, Chicago, United States, 2International Rectal Microbicide Advocates, Chicago, United States, 3International Center for Advocacy on Right to Health, Lagos, Nigeria, 4AVAC - Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, New York City, United States, 5The African Alliance for HIV Prevention, Johannesburg, South Africa, 6Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa, 7Most At Risk Populations' Society in Uganda, Kampala, Uganda, 8New HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Advocacy Society, Lagos, Nigeria
Data increasingly show that unprotected anal intercourse plays an important role in African HIV epidemics. However, until recently, rectal microbicides (RMs) have not been part of the broader HIV prevention agenda in Africa, due in part to the denial of anal sex among heterosexual men and women and to the pervasive homophobia and criminalization that has negated the existence of gay men and other men who have sex with men. IRMA (International Rectal Microbicide Advocates) launched Project ARM - Africa for Rectal Microbicides to ensure Africa is on the world´s rectal microbicide research and advocacy agenda.
In mid-2010, IRMA formed a global working group of Africans and allies to plan and implement a two-day strategy meeting on RMs in Africa. Forty individuals from 10 African and 3 non-African countries participated in the meeting, held in Addis Ababa in December 2011. The working meeting provided participants with opportunities to consider diverse African perspectives and to develop concrete strategies, goals and objectives for RM research and advocacy.
Four advocacy and four research priorities were identified, with action steps, including expanded scientific activities, expanded behavioral research, educational efforts, and the need to develop a campaign supporting increased access to condom-compatible lubricants throughout Africa. A report was published in early-2012 as a strategy map to guide the efforts. While the meeting was still in its planning and community mobilization stages, the Microbicide Trials Network announced that an African site would be included in an upcoming Phase II RM trial.
This African-led agenda has already been adopted by African advocates and researchers across the continent, greatly increasing the chances that RMs will be included in core efforts to increase HIV prevention options for African men and women engaging in anal intercourse, despite considerable cultural and legal challenges.