Scientists attending the Microbicides 2006 Conference have announced that a gel that would prevent the transmission of HIV could be ready for use by 2010. The availability of microbicides could be crucial in reducing the number of HIV infections by lessening women’s dependence upon their male partner’s willingness to use a condom, thereby giving them more control over their exposure to the virus.
The Conference’s co-chair, Professor Helen Rees, said, “It’s not always possible for people to negotiate condom use in many different circumstances … so there was obviously a need to have methods that were potentially hidden [and] could be female-controlled,” reports BBC. Researchers hope to make microbicides available especially to women in sub-Saharan Africa, who, according to the Associated Press, make up almost 60 percent of HIV infections in the region, most of whom were infected through heterosexual intercourse.
The AP cites research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine that 2.5 million HIV infections could be prevented over just three years if 20 percent of all women in 73 different developing countries used microbicides. Reuters reports that five microbicides are nearly finished with clinical trials and, according to the AP, the research should be complete in two years, with the final products available perhaps as early as 2010, pending governmental approval.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .