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Africa: New Vaginal Ring Borrows From Birth Control to Fight AIDS

June 10, 2010

The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) is launching the first clinical trial in Africa of a vaginal ring to help combat HIV infection.

The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of the ring will occur at research centers in southern and eastern Africa. The rings contain 25 mg of the new antiretroviral drug dapivirine. Existing vaginal rings, in contrast, contain contraceptive or therapeutic hormones.

Recent World Health Organization data show that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death globally in women 15 to 44 years old. In Africa, it is the single most important cause of disease for women ages 15-59.

Clinical trials of the IPM ring will include approximately 280 healthy, sexually active HIV-negative women who will be given either the dapivirine ring or a placebo ring, which they will have to replace every month during the three-month study. They also will be given condoms and counseling on how to prevent infection.

The purpose of these studies is to measure the acceptability of the vaginal ring and whether it will be used correctly.

"You have to make sure that a product is acceptable before you test its efficacy, because if people don't like the product, what's the point?" said Pamela Norick, a spokesperson for IPM.

Dapivirine is in the same class of antiretrovirals as those used to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission.

If the new vaginal rings prove safe and acceptable to users, they will be further studied for efficacy. If all goes well, they could be marketed by 2015, according to Zeda Rosenberg, a top official at IPM.

"Vaginal rings have tremendous promise because they could offer discreet, effective and sustained protection against HIV infection," IPM said in a statement.

Back to other news for June 2010

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News and Research on Microbicides

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