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AFRICA: Testing an ARV-containing vaginal ring

Photo: International Partnership for Microbicides
Each flexible silicone ring slowly releases the drug over the course of a month
NAIROBI, 9 June 2010 (PlusNews) - Researchers have begun a clinical trial to test the safety and acceptability of a vaginal ring containing an antiretroviral (ARV) drug to prevent HIV transmission during sex.

"[Vaginal rings] are designed to provide sustainable protection for a month or longer," said Dr Zeda Rosenberg, chief executive officer of the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), the manufacturers of the ring.

"Vaginal rings are quite popular in the US and Europe for both contraception and hormone delivery because they are discreet, durable and long-lasting," she told a press conference at the Women Deliver Conference 2010 in Washington DC via webcast on 8 June.

The clinical trial - IPM 015 - will involve 280 volunteers from across the African continent who will be randomly assigned to use either the ARV-containing ring or a placebo, which will be replaced once a month for three months. Women in South Africa have already begun volunteering for the trial.

Each flexible silicone ring slowly releases 25mg of the ARV drug dapivirine over the course of 28 days, potentially providing sustained protection against HIV. IPM said the vaginal ring would be easy to distribute, making it well suited for use in developing countries.

Read more:
 ARVs in microbicide research - keeping hope alive?
 The femaile condom - the step-child in HIV prevention
 Trials and tribulations of HIV prevention research (In-depth)
The ring has already been tested in four clinical trials among women in Europe, with another trial ongoing, and has been shown to be safe. If the IPM 015 trial confirms the safety and acceptability of the product among women in Africa, a subsequent phase to test the ability of dapivirine rings to prevent HIV infection will begin in Africa in 2011, with results due in 2015.

Prevention approaches incorporating ARVs are thought to be among the most promising against HIV. However, scientists have warned that regular HIV testing would have to be an integral part of any prevention programme using ARVs to prevent the risk of participants developing drug-resistance.

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Theme (s): Education, Gender Issues, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Prevention - PlusNews,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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