Preventive antiretroviral medications for HIV could, in the future, come in the form of an intravaginal ring for women.
A new study from Northwestern University shows that intravaginal rings were 100 percent effective in protecting simian immunodeficiency virus in monkeys. The device will now be tested in humans in a trial at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in which 60 women will test the ring for 14 days.
"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," study researcher Patrick Kiser, of Northwestern University, said in a statement.
Kiser, who conducted the research while at the University of Utah, noted that this could be a good preventive option considering the tediousness of taking high-dose pills daily, and usage rates are poor for vaginal gels because they must be applied before sex. The ring, which contains a powdered version of the antiretroviral tenofovir, works by being inserted for 30 days at a time (tenofovir is already taken orally as an antiretroviral).
However, the ring is different from current intravaginal devices, such as the NuvaRing for contraception, because its made with unique polymers that can release more of the drug at a time, compared with silicone.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.