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19 December 2017, 15:05
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Three-month HIV prevention vaginal ring begins first clinical trial

Three-month HIV prevention vaginal ring begins first clinical trial - picture 1

The nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) announced today the start of the first clinical trial of vaginal rings designed to slowly release the antiretroviral (ARV) drug dapivirine over three months to prevent HIV in women, EurekAlert reports. The development of a three-month ring builds on the promise of IPM's one-month dapivirine ring, which is now under regulatory review as the first discreet and long-acting method shown to reduce HIV risk among women.

A three-month ring would increase convenience and reduce annual costs.

"This study marks an important next step toward providing discreet, long-acting HIV prevention options that women can control themselves," said Dr. Zeda Rosenberg, founder and chief executive officer of IPM. "As long as HIV incidence continues to be alarmingly high among women, IPM will continue developing new and refining existing solutions women can use on their own terms to protect their sexual and reproductive health."

Dr. Annalene Nel, IPM's chief medical officer, said that this is a notable development for women in sub-Saharan Africa, who remain the population group with the highest risk of HIV infection worldwide. "The latest research builds on the findings of two large studies, IPM's Ring Study and the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN)'s ASPIRE, which in 2016 reported that the monthly ring safely helps reduce the risk of HIV infection among women who participated in these studies in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe."

Dr. Nel said that the continued research supports findings indicating women are interested in HIV prevention products that act over the course of one month or longer.

In September 2017 the United States Agency for International Development announced that it will award the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) up to $25 million for a period of 5 years to accelerate the potential rollout of its monthly vaginal ring designed to reduce the risk of HIV in HIV-negative women, Contagion reports.

Made of a flexible silicone material, the ring contains dapivirine, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that blocks HIV’s ability to replicate inside of a healthy cell.

Women bear the brunt of the epidemic globally, making up more than half of all adults living with HIV/AIDS. Women are at especially high risk in sub-Saharan Africa, where young women are more than twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men. Currently available HIV prevention tools have not been sufficient to stem the epidemic among women, who urgently need more options.