Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet Arwa, a Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate

Arwa Meijer
Brussels, Belgium

Arwa Meijer, an international microbicide advocate, is quite international herself! Half Dutch and half Bolivian, Meijer is currently based in Belgium. At present, she is the European Programme Associate at the Global Campaign for Microbicides based in Brussels. From the start, the Global Campaign has been extraordinarily active in rectal microbicide advocacy and in helping to catalyze the creation and progression of IRMA. The Campaign has truly inspired her and provided her valuable insight as to how to become a rectal microbicide advocate.

Meijer is a firm believer that with more HIV prevention options, more people will have something to choose from that better fits their specific needs. “Everybody is different, everybody has different practices, different sexual tendencies. It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s what you do.” Rectal microbicides are even more important knowing that anal intercourse is a daily practice in many people’s lives in certain cultures. Because science has shown that HIV transmission via unprotected anal sex is more likely compared to unprotected vaginal sex, Meijer agrees that there is an urgent need for research and development of rectal microbicides. She also believes that once a vaginal microbicides are on the market, the reality will be that both men and women will likely be using it rectally despite labels indicating that it is not for rectal use. Therefore, she thinks it is important to not only examine the rectal safety of current vaginal microbicides but also to look into their efficacy in working as potential rectal microbicides.

Meijer’s first real contact with rectal microbicides came at the Microbicides 2006 conference in Capetown where she was active in recruiting more advocates for IRMA. At the Microbicides 2008 conference, she helped organize a reception for the launch of “Less Silence, More Science”. At the AIDS 2008 Conference in Mexico City, she worked at a booth promoting partnership in HIV prevention research to raise awareness and education of rectal microbicides. Meijer has also helped create a free online course, titled The Essentials Microbicides Course, in which she designed a module focusing on rectalmicrobicides. She encourages her fellow microbicide advocates and others to learn more about the research and development of rectal microbicides by taking that module.

When she is not traveling around the world and advocating her heart out, Arwa enjoys going to the cinema, salsa dancing, and organizing dinners with her friends.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...