November 14, 2018—The Population Council has received initial funding from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) to assess the feasibility of combining oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention with an oral contraceptive into a single pill, which women would take once a day.

Despite significant progress in improving sexual and reproductive health around the world, sub-Saharan Africa continues to see high rates of unintended pregnancy and HIV. Between 40 and 50 percent of women who do not want to become pregnant are not using a modern method of contraception, and nearly two thirds of new HIV infections each year are among young women.

“Growing evidence suggests that many women may be more likely to use an HIV prevention method if it also provided protection against pregnancy,” said Jim Sailer, executive director of the Center for Biomedical Research at the Population Council. “We must continue to develop innovative sexual and reproductive health technologies that women and girls can control, and we must find ways to do this as quickly as possible.”

Several novel contraceptive multi-purpose prevention technologies (cMPTs) are in development, yet it will be many years before one is available. This new partnership is intended to fast-track development of a single product to prevent unintended pregnancy and HIV. With this initial funding, the Population Council will confirm cMPT acceptability among adolescent girls and young women, explore the possibility of combining existing products in to a single tablet and identify a clear pathway toward regulatory approval.

The cMPT product will contain the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in PrEP and the APIs used in an approved oral contraceptive to create one pill that can protect against pregnancy and HIV.

“An oral cMPT, available in family planning and HIV clinics, has the potential to play an important role in meeting the urgent sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescent girls and young women,” said Julia Bunting, president of the Population Council. “The Population Council is committed to continuing our decades of success in researching and developing products that give women and girls choice, convenience, and control over their sexual and reproductive health.”

For more than 60 years, research conducted at the Center for Biomedical Research has addressed critical questions in sexual and reproductive health and supported the development of innovative products that help protect the health and well-being of millions of people worldwide.

The Center’s researchers pioneered the field of long-acting, reversible contraception (LARCs), developing intrauterine devices (IUDs) such as ParaGard® (the copper-T IUD) and Mirena®; implants such as Norplant® and Jadelle®; and most recently the Annovera™ contraceptive vaginal system. Today, more than 170 million people worldwide – about 25% of women who use a modern method – use contraceptives developed by the Population Council or based on the Council’s technologies.

About the Population Council

The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, we work with our partners to deliver solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world. Established in 1952 and headquartered in New York, the Council is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization governed by an international board of trustees.