At these conferences, I'm always reminded what it feels like to be surrounded by everyday heroes working in reproductive health, and I inevitably come home more inspired and reinvigorated. This year was particularly energized because of the large youth delegation that brought incredible spirit and talents to the conference!
As defined by the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies, MPTs are products that combine protection against unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections such as HPV (which can cause cervical cancer), herpes, gonorrhea, or chlamydia.
Male and female condoms are the only currently available MPTs. Examples of MPTs in development include intravaginal rings that release a contraceptive along with an anti-HIV medication, or a contraceptive diaphragm that could be loaded with an anti-HIV gel. Developing new MPTs would mean providing women and couples with more prevention options to protect their health.
My presentation provided a brief overview on the epidemiological evidence on whether various hormonal contraceptive methods increase risk of HIV acquisition in women, and also on potential drug interactions between hormonal contraceptive methods and medications used to treat HIV. Along with the excellent introduction to the issue by moderator Dr. Kirsten Vogelsong of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this motivating example helped to set the stage for why developing products like MPTs is so critical - to empower women to simultaneously prevent multiple risks to sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Anke Hemmerling (UCSF) and Laura Dellplain (CAMI Health) delved into the MPT topics more deeply - discussing some of the challenges faced in MPT development, and the work that the Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies is doing to accelerate the process.
You can find a great description of the focus of the entire panel here, and the webinar is available here. I hope you enjoy it - please spread the word about the need for multipurpose prevention technologies!