Thousands meet at the International Conference on Family Planning in Senegal to discuss breakthroughs in technology and new initiatives to integrate family planning and HIV services.
DAKAR, Senegal, 1 Dec. 2011 – On World AIDS Day, leading reproductive health and contraception experts will gather to discuss the enormous challenges that women and men face, particularly in Africa, in preventing both unintended pregnancy and HIV infection. Speakers today will evaluate what it will take to achieve family planning and HIV integration—critical given limited resources, a lingering epidemic, and massive unmet need for contraception.
Thursday's plenary will focus on the joint risk of HIV and unintended pregnancy and new initiatives to address both. Currently, the only methods that protect from both HIV and unplanned pregnancy are the male and female condom. New hope has come from a number of combination technologies in development – including a vaginal ring that releases both ARVs (anti-retroviral therapies) and contraceptives.
“Women need a range of options that can protect themselves from both pregnancy and HIV. There are several promising technologies in the pipeline, but increased support for this research and development is critical,” said Judy Manning, Health Development Officer, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
A special panel of experts will discuss the recent research suggesting a link between hormonal contraception and HIV acquisition for the first time on a global stage. The panel will consider the tension between balancing exposure to HIV infection in the context of the popularity of injectable hormonal contraception among sub-Saharan African couples and massive unmet need for contraception. They will discuss how to responsibly convey information of these risks worldwide, and identify what questions still need to be answered.
“We need more research regarding the risks and challenges that women in Africa face, reconciling pregnancy and HIV prevention. We need to do more to meet their needs and those of their partners and offer them a range of options to protect themselves," said Dr. Ward Cates, President, Research, FHI 360.
Following the panel, a press conference featuring HIV and contraception experts will discuss the present and future of HIV and family planning integration. Speakers will share the latest breakthroughs in contraceptive technologies and the role of donors and developing countries in supporting integration. Speakers will include:
· Hon. Stephen O'Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, UK Department for International Development (DFID)
· Dr. Bocar Daff, Director of Reproductive Health Services, Ministry of Health, Senegal
· Mr. Tewodros Melesse, Director-General, International Planned Parenthood
· Dr. Judy Manning, Health Development Officer, Office of Population and Reproductive Health, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
· Dr. Ward Cates, President, Research, FHI 360
The ICFP is co-sponsored by more than 30 international organizations including USAID, DFID, AFD, UNFPA, WHO, European Commission, World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Accredited members of the press may register for ICFP in-person at Le Méridien, Dakar
For more information on ICFP, please visit: www.fpconference2011.org
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