The goal of developing a safe, effective microbicide depends on more than good science. It requires the commitment of policy-makers, the public and the private sector to invest the necessary resources.
This is why public education and advocacy are critical in bringing public health goods --such as microbicides and vaccines-- to market. Whereas in some areas of science, the motives of profit and professional ambition are sufficient to propel innovation, microbicides will only become a reality if the advocacy community mobilises sufficient political will to garnersubstantial investment on the part of governments and private foundations (see economics of microbicide development).
Advocacy must extend beyond ensuring that a microbicide is produced. It must include research, policy work, and political activism to ensure that the microbicides developed are widely available and correctly and consistently used by individuals at risk of HIV and STIs, especially women. This requires focusing advocacy on issues of pricing, accessibility, stigma, gender bias, and women's empowerment, in addition to efforts to accelerate product development and approval.
Moreover, because microbicides are a user-controlled technology and a global public health good, any successful microbicides strategy must be informed by user needs and perspectives, and engage users and civil society as active partners.