Vaginal Rings for HIV Prevention

HIV is a major health concern in modern society. No matter how hard we have tried to cure HIV and AIDS, we have not been able to find a cure. All we can do is work to prevent HIV.

The best method of prevention is obviously abstinence. You cannot catch a sexually transmitted disease if you don’t have sex or sexual contact. But for many of us, that is not an option. We want to have fun. Sex is part of our nature.

Condoms are a good start to preventing HIV. They prevent sperm from entering into your partner’s body. At the same time though, a condom is only so effective. Sex is a vigorous activity and it isn’t hard for a condom to break. And no matter how good quality control is for condoms, broken condoms have also been found in packages.

You also have to remember to put a condom on in the heat of the moment. While a slight buzzkill, it is a necessary one. But what if there was another method to prevent HIV?

Vaginal rings are a circular device that can be placed inside the vagina. The ring is placed inside the vagina and it works for a month at a time. No need to remember to put it in. These rings contain a medication known as dapivirine. This drug is known to kill HIV before it can infect your body.

Some women are nervous about the use of the HIV vaginal ring, the list of concerns is long but here are a few of the most common:

After being informed about the device and its use, most of these concerns were easily abated. Women who have already used the device have found it to be very rewarding and near impossible to notice. Their partners didn’t notice it at all.

In studies it has been found that the trust the women put in these vaginal rings was well placed. No safety or health concerns were found during the tests. In addition, no comfort issues were found in the majority of those participating.

The vaginal ring was tested around Africa and it was found to reduce HIV infection rates by 27%. That is a huge number. Another study found that if you use the device consistently, the chance of infection is about 35%. All three major phases of pharmaceutical testing have been completed by the powers behind the vaginal ring for HIV prevention.

Testing has been conducted on all parts of the vaginal ring. That includes effectiveness, safety, efficacy, comfort, and side effects. All parts have tested good but like all medications and medical devices, there are always those who have issues. The number detected during studies is insignificant.

Women studied under the test were between the ages of 18 and 45. Outside of that range, there is only a minimal amount of studying performed. Those over 21 saw better results from the HIV prevention ring.

At this point, HIV prevention rings are only in the research and development stage. Companies and nations alike around the world are working hard to develop a solution to the HIV epidemic around the world. There are other methods for prevention.

We have already mentioned condoms as a preventative action but they don’t hold any special power such as the medication included in HIV prevention rings. You can opt to take the medication by itself but that presents with it a whole new level of problems.

A major concern about medication for HIV prevention is the fact that you have to remember to take it regularly. Many people also notice side effects from medication when taken orally.

Are you interested in HIV prevention in the form of a vaginal ring? You might not have to wait too long. The current ring mentioned in the above studies has been submitted to the European Medicines Agency for approval. The powers behind the vaginal ring have also been preparing for submission to other major control boards around the world such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

 

Michele is the main author and editor of hivpreventionresearch.org

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