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Washington Post Examines Trial in Africa of Long-Acting Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention

June 15, 2010

"The first test of a long-acting vaginal ring loaded with an HIV-preventing drug has begun enrolling women in southern Africa," the Washington Post reports. The study, according to the newspaper, marks the 15th trial led by the nonprofit group, International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), which "has helped lead the search for a discreet, woman-controlled means of protection" against the virus.

The article examines the impact of HIV on women worldwide, noting "[o]f the 33 million people living with AIDS worldwide, 16 million are women age 15 and older. Two-thirds of HIV-infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa, and 60 percent of them there are women." The newspaper also details the advantages microbicides could offer to women attempting to protect themselves from HIV.

The vaginal ring, manufactured by IMP, releases the antiretroviral dapivirine over the course of a month, after which it is replaced, the newspaper notes. The first trial of the vaginal ring, which will involve 280 women, will test the safety of the product "through blood tests, pelvic exams and interviews with users. ... The first women were recruited in South Africa at the end of April; other volunteers will come from three nearby countries," the Washington Post writes.

The newspaper continues: "Whether the ring successfully prevents HIV infection will require a much larger study that won't begin until next year. It will recruit up to 8,000 women in seven countries, will cost about $90 million and is expected to have results in 2015."

The article details additional trials of microbicides for women underway, including "an 889-woman study of a vaginal gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir," taking place in South Africa. According to the newspaper, preliminary results of the trial will be unveiled in July. The piece also notes microbicide products in development, including "[a] vaginal ring that contains both contraceptives and an antiretroviral drug is also under development with support from" USAID.

The piece includes quotes from Zeda Rosenberg of IMP and Elizabeth Mataka, the U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa (Brown, 6/15).

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