While researchers are still battling to find a cure for AIDS, some activists feel that choices for women to prevent HIV are limited due to lack of funding.
The HIV and AIDS activists have expressed concern over the lack of serious commitment by countries to allocate resources towards researches targeted at women which they say might be the missing link in curbing the pandemic.
So far, the female condom is the only available method which offers some degree of control to women.
Women and Aids Support Network (WASN) Director Mary Sandasi said adolescent girls and young women usually do not have the power to insist on safe and responsible sex practices and at the same time have little access to information and services for prevention and treatment.
Mrs Sandasi said: “We need to look at how much resources have been poured into male condom issues and male circumcision yet any research targeting women has not received as much funds compared to research for males.”
Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr David Parirenyatwa says there must be a mechanism to ensure that researchers from developed countries, who use Africa as a trial lab to conduct their tests, bring products that are not harmful.
“We cannot run away from research, we need it, but what we should be focusing on is the criteria used to allow researchers to come in. We know that last year some women ended up contracting HIV during the microbicide trials,” he said.
Examples of research targeting females that have been deprived of adequate funding are the microbicide gels research started in 1997 and the female condom which was advocated for in 1996 and brought into circulation in 1997.
It has been noted that African researchers have potential to conduct their own researches in their own countries where they are better aware of virus mutation and how the populations react to new medication or therapies, yet most African researchers end up migrating to developed countries due to lack of funding.