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Vaginal ring helps protect women against HIV


A new study reveals that a vaginal ring can help protect women against HIV, People reports. 

According to research announced at a HIV/AIDS conference in Boston, a vaginal ring has been found to reduce the risk of HIV in women.

The researchers conducted two phase III trials in Sub-Saharan Africa which showed that the monthly ring, which slowly releases an HIV-fighting drug, Dapivirine, brought down the infection rates overall by about 30 percent. 

The Dapivirine ring is the first long-acting HIV prevention method designed for women. 

"Women need a discreet, long-acting form of HIV prevention that they control and want to use," Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a press release. 

The Ring Study reduced the infection rates by 31 percent of 1,959 enrolled woman ages 18-45, compared to the placebo, While the ASPIRE trial, lowered the rate of infection by 27 percent among women in the same age range. 

"Despite having never seen or used a vaginal ring, a number of study participants told us they were very comfortable inserting and removing the ring. A vaginal ring for HIV prevention can be used by African women. Expanding the number of HIV prevention options is important for women globally," said Thesla Palanee-Phillips, Ph.D., ASPIRE protocol co-chair who also directed the research site at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Science Codex reports.

The ASPIRE trial was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The trial ASPIRE, A Study to Prevent Infection with a Ring for Extended Use, was conducted in four sub-Saharan African countries in which women comprise more than half of the 25.8 million people with HIV, Healthcare Drive reports.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 36.9 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2014.

However, there were significant differences in effectiveness according to age in both the studies. The ASPIRE study resulted in a 61 percent reduction in women older than 25.

Fauci said that, "Further research is needed to understand the age-related disparities in the observed level of protection."

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