New Intravaginal Ring may Help Prevent HIV in Women
Statistics show that women are more likely than men to become infected with HIV. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that women account for one in four people living with HIV in the United States, and African American women and Latinas are disproportionately affected at all states of the virus.
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Other research also show that women constitute for 60 percent of people living with AIDS, and while preventative drugs exist to combat the problem, many are often ineffective and too expensive to purchase in developing nations.
Yet a new study looks at the possibilities of an intravginal ring that's filled with an anti-retroviral drug that could potentially provide easy to use, long lasting protection against the simian immunodeficiency virus (SHIV). With the help of scientists, this product will soon undergo its first test in humans, according to researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases by Northwestern University.
"After 10 years of work, we have created an intravaginal ring that can prevent against multiple HIV exposures over an extended period of time, with consistent prevention levels throughout the menstrual cycle," said Kiser, an expert in intravaginal drug delivery who joined Northwestern from the University of Utah, where the research was conducted, via a press release. He is a new faculty member in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering's Department of Biomedical engineering and visiting associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the Feinberg School of Medicine.
Previous studies have demonstrated that antiviral drugs can prevent HIV infection, but existing methods for delivering the drugs often fall short. Pills must be taken daily and require high doses; vaginal gels that must be applied prior to each sex act are inconvenient, yielding poor usage rates.
Background information from the study shows that the ring can be easily inserted and remains in the vaginal area for 30 days. It delivers medication throughout the body via small doses of medication at the transmission site.
The device contains powdered tenofovir, or what's known as an anti-retroviral drug that's taken orally by 3.5 million HIV-infected people worldwide. Yet researchers note that the ring's strength stems from it's unique polymer construction that allows elastomer swells to deliver up to 1,000 times more fluid from the drug than the average technology.
An upcoming clinical trial of the product will be conducted in November at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and evaluates the ring in 60 women over 14 days. It will assess both the safety of the ring and determine how much of the drug is released in the body.
More information regarding the study can be found via the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).