The battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS in the world has received a major boost following the results of a study proving that a vaginal ring can prevent the spread of the deadly virus in women.
The silicone ring is designed to be worn inside the vagina for a period of one month after which it is replaced.
Two separate studies titled ASPIRE and The Ring revealed that a monthly vaginal ring containing Antiretroviral drug (ARV) dapivirine could safely help prevent HIV-1 infection in women.
Dapivirine, a type of ARV, helps prevent HIV from reproducing after the virus enters a healthy cell.
It is the first long-acting HIV prevention method designed for women, who bear the greatest burden of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.
This is a breakthrough in the fight against AIDS as many women in Africa fear using contraceptives like condoms and pills.
Some participants in the research, however, said they did not like wearing the ring during menstruation while some said they preferred to take them out during sex.
Further studies are being done to determine why the ring was less effective among women less than 25 years old compared to their older counterparts.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Notably the epidemic is increasingly feminized, in Sub-Saharan Africa where young women are at least twice as likely to become infected as young men.
It’s not clear whether these results will be enough for the ring to be licensed as a protection method.