HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are global health crises, with over 1 million people contracting a new STI every day and 1.5 million people newly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) every year.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for over two-thirds of all global HIV infections, with women and girls shouldering a disproportionate burden (63%) of all new HIV infections in 2020. Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is an incurable sexually transmitted infection that affects over 491 million people worldwide, 64% of whom are women. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, with most sexually active people infected at some point in their lives. Although most HPV infections clear up on their own, nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to HPV infection.
These sexually transmitted infections can cause serious illness, infertility, stigmatization, and create a huge burden on global health systems. HIV, HSV-2, and HPV have also been shown to influence each other, with HSV-2 infection increasing the risk of contracting HIV by approximately three-fold and women living with HIV six times more likely to develop cervical cancer than those without HIV. New, innovative HIV and STI prevention methods are urgently needed.
To help stop the spread of HIV and other STIs, the Population Council Center for Biomedical Research is developing new, user-controlled prevention methods, known as multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs), designed to protect against HIV, viral STIs, and, in some cases, unintended pregnancy. Our MPT pipeline includes:
- A dual-prevention pill for the prevention of pregnancy and HIV
- A vaginal ring for the prevention of pregnancy and HIV
- A non-hormonal intravaginal ring with the potential to offer contraceptive activity and broad anti-microbial activity against chlamydia, gonorrhea, HSV-2, HIV, and bacterial vaginosis
- A non-hormonal contraceptive fast-dissolving insert for on-demand prevention of pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections
Council researchers have decades of experience working with active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for contraception and HIV and STI prevention. Through this work, our researchers can explore other health uses for these APIs. Currently, Council researchers are exploring a Nestorone® formulation to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) and a self-administered, topically active intranasal product to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and other emerging coronaviruses.