We at Yaso Therapeutics are developing a vaginal gel, called Yaso-GEL, that uses a single proprietary drug to prevent pregnancy as well as genital herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. The gel is mucoadhesive, non-irritating, relatively low-cost, and stable. Yaso-GEL aims to be an MPT that can fill the need for non-hormonal contraceptives and protect women from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
In the early 1990’s, I met a young woman named Gelete. I was working as part of an HIV prevention team along the Sudanese border of Ethiopia, and Gelete was one of our team’s most committed local volunteers working to implement our condom distribution program. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a physician and attending medical school—but, at age 16, she was raped by her teacher, became pregnant and was then ostracized and abandoned by her own family. With no support and a baby to feed, she moved to a small town to work on a coffee plantation. Since coffee bean harvesting is seasonal work with few other opportunities available in the off season, Gelete joined other young women in similar situations exchanging money for sex to survive.
Yes! Yes! We soon may have a ring for our vaginas! I know what you are thinking; vaginal rings have been here since sliced bread. True, but what’s new about this one is that it will provide protection from HIV. Future rings will also include protection from unintended pregnancies and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), too. And when that ring is available, I am putting it in! Because I like my vagina, and I want to stay healthy.
Incorporating what women want into new sexual and reproductive health products is essential
We at PATH make it our business to reflect on the elusive topic of ‘what women want’—in terms of protection options in their sexual and reproductive lives. Not surprisingly, the answer is complex. Women want and need different things at different stages of their lifecycle, depending on the circumstances of their lives.
Leveraging its experience developing the first vaginal ring and long-acting product shown to help prevent HIV, the nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides is now developing a three-month vaginal ring designed to reduce women’s HIV risk and prevent unplanned pregnancy. This innovative multipurpose prevention technology would offer women a discreet option to protect their sexual and reproductive health on their own terms.
This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of Cooperative Agreement #AID-OAA-A-16-00045. The contents are the responsibility of the IMPT, CAMI Health, PHI, and its partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the U.S. Government.