The National Institutes of Health recently conducted studies that show an antiretroviral drug within a vaginal ring may be the strongest protector for women against HIV infections.
Results showed that the vaginal ring decreased the chances of infection by approximately 27 percent. This figure improves to 61 percent protection against HIV infections for women who are 25 and older and who consistently apply the ring.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women made up over half of the HIV-infected population, which amounted to 25.8 million people in 2014. Having efficient methods to prevent HIV infections is important for young women and adolescent girls, as this will help to avoid the spread of the disease.
"Women need a discreet, long-acting form of HIV prevention that they control and want to use," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the primary funder of the trial, said. "This study found that a vaginal ring containing a sustained-release antiretroviral drug confers partial protection against HIV among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Further research is needed to understand the age-related disparities in the observed level of protection."
The large clinical trial was held in four countries located in sub-Saharan Africa. It has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections based in Boston.
"To help bring about an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, women--especially those in sub-Saharan Africa--need multiple options for HIV prevention," Dr. Jared Baeten, who co-led the study for the NIH-funded Microbicide Trials Network, said.