Vaginal Ring can reduce risk of HIV Infection

Two separate studies tested the medicated vaginal silicone ring on African women. The vaginal ring continuously releases an experimental antiretroviral drug called dapivirine, which could help protect women from HIV. The clinical trial conducted by ASPIRE researchers, included more than 2,600 women across the Southern Africa sub-region in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda and South Africa. According to UNICEF, there are 17.1 million adults and children living with HIV in the Southern Africa sub-region.

“Its researchers found that 27% fewer cases of HIV infection in those who received the dapivirine rings compared to those who were given placebos. But when they only included women over 25 in the count, they found that the ring reduced the rate of infection by 61 percent. That becomes 56 percent for everyone over 21.”

Essentially, the research is saying that the vaginal ring overall effective rate is much lower for women ages 18-21. The clinical trial discovered the younger aged women did not use the ring as frequently as the older women and contraception was not provided for them either. The vaginal ring has to be changed monthly and requires regular visits to the doctor. Researchers are also planning to pair the ring with optional birth control. Although the ring has not been released to the public, I have a few suggestions and questions of my own:

  • Why weren’t the younger girls given protection?
  • The younger girls clearly need adamant education about the HIV virus itself and follow up phone call reminders as it relates to monthly maintenance of the vaginal ring.
  • What was the emotional effects on the women who used the placebo? Assuming they would have contracted the HIV virus.
  • How does the intercourse phase affect both women and men long term?
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