HIV/AIDS is no longer erroneously labeled a gay man’s disease. Today, approximately 20 million women worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS — about the same number as men. In young women, in particular, infection rates are rising at an alarming pace. Women between the ages of 15 and 24 are up to three times as likely to be infected as young men, and women now make up over 60 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds living with the disease.
The face of the epidemic has changed. Consequently, so must our prevention strategies — especially in areas of Africa and Asia, where monogamy is not standard and condom use is limited or non-existent due to cultural norms, gender roles, or inadequate access to healthcare and education. Women need a way to protect themselves that does not require male cooperation or even awareness. According to many researchers, microbicides may be the best option and the key to preventing future female infections.