Vaginal rings help prevent HIV infection in African women, according to researchers. The ring was proven to be both safe and effective, providing extended protection against women who are at high-risk for contracting the disease.
Results from the international collaboration, including scientists from the U.S., U.K., continental Europe, and Africa, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on December 1st 2016.
About 36.9 million people live with HIV worldwide. Of those, about 25.6 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa, many who are adolescent girls and young women. There is a critical need for an easy, effective means of preventing HIV transmission in the region.
The vaginal ring contains dapivirine, a drug with antiviral properties used to treat HIV type 1. In one cohort, healthy, HIV-negative women used a self-inserted ring that gradually released dapivirine over time. In another cohort, women used a placebo ring, which served as the experimental control.
The rate of HIV infection among women with the dapivirine ring was 31% lower than those in the placebo group for women over 21 years of age, and 15% lower rate for those 21 years old or younger (however, there was no significant age effect). Researchers also noted no marked difference in the percentage of women who experienced adverse health effects when using the dapivirine ring and those using the placebo. Although further trials are necessary, these pivotal results suggest that there is a long-term, reversible means for treating HIV.
- Multiple authors. Safety and Efficacy of a Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention in Women. 1 December 2016, New England Journal of Medicine