Vaginal ring protects women from HIV infection

A vaginal ring emitting an experimental drug reduced HIV prevalence significantly among women when used properly and consistently, according to a clinical trial in four sub-Saharan African countries.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found the ring, which contains the antiretroviral drug dapivirine, was most effective at preventing spread of the disease among women older than 25 in a trial in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Overall, the ring was effective barely more than a quarter of the time because of improper use or women who did not use it. The spread of HIV was reduced significantly when used properly, though.

More than 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have HIV or AIDS, with 9 out of 10 children in world who have one of the diseases living there, according to the World Health Organization..

Researchers said the dapivirine vaginal ring could have more success at controlling the spread of HIV because women can fully control its use, unlike condoms, with which men can interfere. The $5 silicone ring can be worn for a month, does not need to be refrigerated and can sit on a shelf for five years.

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