Shaping Advocacy on Hormonal Contraceptives and HIV

Lillian Mworeko from ICW-East Africa and an AVAC Fellowship Host Supervisor in 2012 gave a dynamic presentation on the June 11 USAID/FHI 360 webinar “Hormonal Contraception and HIV: What Do the Evidence and WHO Technical Statement Mean for Programs?” Mworeko highlighted the critical importance of addressing women’s reproductive health and HIV prevention and/or treatment needs with integrated services that provide full information on the risks and benefits of all available options—including injectable hormonal contraceptives. The webinar recording is available here. Lillian’s perspective can be heard from about 33 minutes in.

This July, Lillian Mworeko, along with Lydia Mukombe (a 2012 AVAC Fellow) will convene a small strategy session in Uganda on African women’s advocacy on hormonal contraceptives and HIV risk. To learn more about outcomes from this meeting and to share advocacy ideas and questions, email us at

Rwandan Civil Society Organizations Learn about PrEP and Combination Prevention

On June 19-20 in Kigali, 15 civil society organizations (CSOs) completed a two-day training on HIV prevention with a focus on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The meeting was organized by 2013 AVAC Prevention Research Advocacy Fellow Josephine Kamarebe and her host organization, the Health Development Initiative. 2013 Fellow Peter Michira from Kenya helped convene the meeting, building on his recent experience with a similar gathering in Kenya. Resource people included the UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Rwanda, Dr. Dludlu Sibongile and Dr. Patrick Ndase, Regional Physician for the Microbicide Trials Network.

The CSOs in attendance represented women, youth, sex workers, men who have sex with men, people living with AIDS and more. The session began by gauging participants’ knowledge of new biomedical HIV prevention tools. The meeting was the first time any of the CSO representatives in attendance had ever heard of PrEP. At the end of the session, after learning more about the intervention, everyone agreed PrEP could be a useful tool for those most at risk.

In her remarks, Dr. Sibongile emphasized the continued importance of other prevention options such as condom use and voluntary medical male circumcision. “No single HIV strategy stands alone. They should all be incorporated in order to reach the goal of zero new HIV infections and deaths.”

To follow up, meeting participants agreed to create a CSO steering committee to coordinate future advocacy. Those in attendance committed to passing along what they had learned to other members of civil society who were not present.

The New Times Rwanda wrote a piece about the workshop. And for the latest on PrEP, visit

South African Media Training on Non-Surgical Circumcision Devices

On June 18, AVAC, the Mail & Guardian’s Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism and CAPRISA held a media briefing on non-surgical devices for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). This meeting helped contextualize the recent World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification of the PrePex device and took place in advance of the South African AIDS Conference (SAAIDS) in Durban, South Africa.

WHO pre-qualified the PrePex device at the end of May, and this process has generated a lot of interest in devices as potential innovations for VMMC programs. The PrePex device involves two rings: one placed inside the foreskin on the shaft of the penis, and an elastic ring placed over that one that compresses the foreskin, cutting off the blood supply through pressure.

A full house of reporters was present to hear speakers who included Dr. Ntlotleng Mabena of the South African Centre for HIV and Prevention Studies (CHAPS) and Dr. Thobile Mbegnashe of the South African Department of Health. Dr. Mabena reported that CHAPS plans to run a pilot study of the PrePex device—one of several taking place in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Mbegnashe said that the government would watch this project closely to learn more about PrePex in the South African context. He told the audience that South Africa is committed to ramping up the procedure, with a goal of 4.3 million men circumcised by 2016.

Mia Malan of the Mail & Guardian and founder of the Bhekisisa Centre wrote a great piece about PrePex and VMMC in South Africa.