Researcher: Include more women in health research

A researcher at Kisumu’s Kenya Medical Research Institute has challenged the media to include more women voices in their stories.
While speaking at the MESHA 14th Media Science Cafe held alongside the Third Kenya Science Journalists Congress 2019 in Mombasa last week, the expert
told the media to stop angling women issues negatively to the detriment of the fight against HIV and for improving reproductive health outcomes.

Dr Maricianah Onono added that at this age, it is self-defeating for the media to continue vilifying unmarried adolescents 18 years and under who
take contraceptives and instead they should put women at the centre while reporting on HIV and Family Planning.

Women, she noted, are often underrepresented in clinical trials on HIV infections, something the media should highlight so that designers of research studies bring more women on board at the planning stages. This comment was made as a follow up to a recent drug known as Descovoy which will be licensed as a PrEP that can only be used by men and transgenders. Despite women being with higher risk of getting HIV, they were not included in the study done by Gilead.

The expert said that only 8.3% of participants enrolled in HIV cure studies are women. This she observed, calls for women to be at the table to plan trials to ensure more women are enrolled in the studies.

Dr Onono went on to observe that there is need to mobilize stakeholders within and beyond the health sector to help create awareness on HIV prevalence.
Finally, the researcher told journalists to report continuously about the need to include women and especially adolescent and young girls in HIV and Family Planning research.