Vaginal ring effective in HIV prevention, study shows

Can you be protected from HIV by using a vaginal ring?

In 2016, a study was conducted on 2,000 women in Uganda and South Africa to look into whether women inserted with a vaginal ring packed with antiretrovirals (ARVs) for a full month had a reduced risk of infection.

The research found that at least a third of the time the vaginal ring did reduce the risk of HIV infection.

To discuss this study, Refilwe Moloto chats to Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism engagement officer Roxy de Villiers.

If a form of ARV is used in the correct dose it could help to prevent contracting HIV. This study conducted between 2012 to 2016 and they were testing to see whether a vaginal ring could work. In the first study, they found that it reduced women's risk of contracting HIV by 31% and the follow-up study showed that it reduced by 63%, which is good news.

Roxy de Villiers, Engagement officer - Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

De Villiers says more studies need to be conducted. However, when compared to other forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the ring makes it easier than taking an oral pill every day.

However, with the vaginal ring, you only need to replace the ring once a month. So in terms of adherence or how consistently women take the PrEP pill, it has been found that it has been quite difficult for women. The vaginal ring, hopefully, can increase adherence with women when it comes to HIV prevention methods. You would have to use the vaginal ring for the entire month to increase prevention.

Roxy de Villiers, Engagement officer - Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism

Listen below to the full interview:


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