Health Care

HIV-preventing vaginal ring found safe for girls

HIV-preventing vaginal ring found safe for girls”

However, this is the first piece of evidence to show that girls under 18 could use it safely, too.

But despites these advances, huge challenges remain globally. Almost 1,000 are infected every day in sub-Saharan Africa.

A vaginal ring to prevent HIV infection is popular with teenage girls, U.S. scientists say. Now, a study has shown that this revolutionary prevention strategy is safe to use in teenage girls, meaning it's one step closer to getting regulatory approval and being widely available.

The dapivirine ring, made of a flexible material, has already been shown to be both safe and to help protect against HIV among women aged 18-45 years in earlier clinical trials. With USAID's support, IPM also plans to submit applications to the South African Medicines Control Council, the US Food and Drug Administration and regulatory authorities in African countries where women face the highest risk.

This new study is the first time that the ring is tested in a younger population, disproportionately affected by HIV in Africa.

Other ongoing clinical research on the ring includes a similar open-label study called HOPE, which includes former ASPIRE participants, as well as a study called REACH set to begin later this year that will assess ring use among young women and adolescent girls in four African countries. "HIV doesn't distinguish between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old".

New research has found an effective way to prevent HIV in adolescent girls. "Young women of all ages deserve to be protected", Hillier added while presenting the findings at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science 2017 in Paris.

For this new research, 96 girls, from 15 to 17 years old, were enlisted to try the test ring, which contained antiretroviral drug dapivirine, or a placebo.

The research recruited 96 girls aged 15 to 17 from six sites across the United States, 73 of which were in the dapivirine ring group and 23 were assigned to use the placebo ring.

The study was not created to test whether the ring was effective as the girls were not at high-risk of infection, but it was meant to test safety before the device can be rolled out more widely in a trial in Africa.

The researchers observed that the safety of the dapivirine ring was no different from that of the placebo, and adherence was high among participants. Scientists recorded high adherence to the ring, adequate levels of the medication in the girls bloodstream and deemed it safe to the health of the patients. In the dapivirine group, 87 percent of plasma samples had detectable levels of drug suggestive of the ring being used the previous day; 95 percent of the rings returned after use had drug levels that suggested consistent use during the previous month. They were asked to use their ring for a month at a time for a total of six months. "We applaud USAID's leadership in championing HIV prevention innovations that could provide women with the options they need to overcome urgent threats to their health".

Its usage gives women the freedom to protect themselves without relying on men to wear condoms.

HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. The study was conducted between July 2014 and July 2016, as ASPIRE and The Ring Study were underway. This can be of particular importance for women in settings where ideal condom use may not be an option.

According to the department, there are several forms of the drug now being researched, including gels, rings and vaginal film.

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