Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



A critical review of current epidemiological trends and social science research demonstrates that there is an urgent need for expanding the range of female-controlled HIV prevention methods. Existing efforts to control the spread of HIV infection primarily through the encouragement of a reduction in the number of sexual partners, widespread condom promotion, and the control of other sexually transmitted infections are inadequate for many of the world's women. Underlying gender power inequities severely limit the ability of many women to protect themselves from HIV infection, especially in the absence of a prevention technology they can use, when necessary, without their partner's consent. Current understanding of biology suggests that developing such methods is a feasible and potentially cost-effective endeavor. This paper describes the growing risk of HIV infection faced by women throughout the world, examines the limitation of contemporary AIDS prevention strategy in meeting the needs of women, reviews the existing data on female-controlled HIV prevention methods, and outlines the challenges for future microbicide development.