Researchers in the United States say a further study of a female ring to prevent HIV infection will now be run with teenagers in Africa. This is coming after a trial in which American teenagers used the female ring to prevent HIV infection proved successful. The flexible ring, which sits on the cervix, is said to cut infection by 56 percent. Dapivirine inhibits HIV’s reverse transcriptase enzyme, a protein vital to HIV’s ability to replicate and cause an infection. Each intravirginial ring contains one or more microbicides that are intended to be delivered into the “fanatomy” compartment at a high concentration and to be directly absorbed by the cells and tissues.
The flexible plastic ring, embedded with anti-retroviral drugs, was changed every month over a six-month period. At the end of a six-month trial to ascertain its effectiveness, researchers found that 87 percent of ninety-six saxually active girls who partook had detectable levels of the drug in their “fanatomy”. The study investigators concluded that the ring is safe and acceptable to young women.
“HIV doesn’t distinguish between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old. Access to safe and effective HIV prevention shouldn’t either, young women of all ages deserve to be protected,” said Sharon Hillier, principal investigator and vice chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Reporting the development at the 9th International AIDS Society conference in Paris, the researchers said they were encouraged that the girls used the ring and said they liked it.
If the ring gets regulatory approval, it would be the first method of prevention exclusively for women. Its usage gives women the freedom to protect themselves without relying on men to wear condoms.