WHO guidance grounded in a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and human rights: topical pre-exposure prophylaxis

Authors & affiliation

Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, Rajat Khosla, Rachel Baggaley, Marleen Temmerman, Elizabeth McGrory, Tim Farley


Introduction: Two new microbicide products based on topical (vaginal) application of antiretroviral drugs – 1% tenofovir gel and the dapivirine ring – are currently in late-stage clinical testing, and results on their safety and effectiveness are expected to become available in early 2015. WHO guidelines on the use of topical pre-exposure prophylaxis (topical PrEP) are important in order to ensure that these new prevention products are optimally used. Discussion: Given that these new topical PrEP products are designed to be woman initiated and will likely be delivered in reproductive health settings, it is important to ensure that the guidance be framed in the context of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and human rights. In addition to the safety and effectiveness data resulting from clinical trials, and the regulatory approval required for new products, the WHO normative guidelines on the use of topical PrEP will be essential for rapid roll-out in countries. Conclusions: Human rights standards and principles provide a framework for the provision of woman-initiated HIV prevention products. These include addressing issues related to the gender inequities which are linked to the provision of HIV-prevention, treatment and care for young girls and women. Effective programming for women and girls must therefore be based on understanding the local, social and community contexts of the AIDS epidemic in the country, and adapting HIV strategies and programmes accordingly. Such a framework therefore is needed not only to ensure optimal uptake of these new products by women and girls but also to address sociocultural barriers to women’s and girls’ access to these products.

Publication date:


Staff members:

Marleen Temmerman

Link to publication

Open link


WHO_guidance.pdf (open)

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