Many people are familiar with the form of birth-control known as the NuvaRing, a device that is inserted into the vagina and which releases hormones so as to assist in regulating the menstrual cycle. Now, imagine taking that concept of a vaginal ring and changing its focus from hormones to releasing antiviral drugs that can help combat against HIV infection (somewhat similar to PrEP). This is what the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring does, with a recent study showing promising results in regards to its effectiveness.
The ring is inserted into the vagina and over a period of time secretes the anti-HIV drug Dapivirine. Two studies of African women that had a total of 4,500 participants found that the infection rate for HIV could be reduced up to 30% compared to those women who did not incorporate the ring into their HIV-prevention efforts.As adherence can be a concern with PrEP–due to it sometimes being hard for people to remember to take a pill everyday–having a method such as this vaginal ring could simplify things. It also is worth noting that the rings manufacturer, a company known as the International Partnership for Microbicides (or IPM) hopes to potentially create a ring that works to prevent HIV and contains hormones to assist with birth-control.
There is not currently an anti-HIV vaginal ring in production or on sale, but IPM hopes to have all the needed clearances in place and begin production within the next year, with rings potentially selling for $5.00 each and an individual ring lasting for 3 months (currently they run out of chemicals after 28 days). Hopefully this ring will prove to be another great tool in combating the spread of HIV!
Information on NuvaRing: http://www.nuvaring.com/consumer/
IPM’s official website: http://www.ipmglobal.org/node/532
Science Magazine Article: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/02/drug-laced-vaginal-ring-succeeds-against-hiv-sometimes
New York Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/health/vaginal-ring-hiv-aids-drug-dapivirine.html?_r=0