March 6, 2014
This article was reported by NewScientist.
NewScientist reported on the creation of a new contraceptive device for women that also prevents HIV and herpes. Patrick Kiser of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and colleagues developed a flexible vaginal ring made of a malleable tube containing tenofovir, an anti-HIV drug, and levonorgestrel, a contraceptive. Once the drugs are distributed throughout the vagina, they should maintain their efficacy for hours, giving the wearer freedom to remove the ring temporarily.
The researchers are awaiting approval to begin US trials of the ring. So far, the researchers have done animal testing, which showed that the device delivered the anti-HIV drug in similar doses as gels previously used in human trials and delivered effective levels of contraceptive. Also, in other trials, tenofovir has been proven to protect against herpes. The ring costs approximately $10, but Kiser believes the price can be lowered to $5.
According to Kiser, the use of vaginal gels before and after sex, and pills as pre-exposure prophylaxis, have failed because they were not used correctly. The researchers created the ring with the goal of providing women in developing countries a method of protecting themselves if their partner refused to wear a condom. Kiser explained that he wanted something easy for women; the user can insert the ring and forget about it for months, have sex with it in place, or remove it for short periods of time.
The full report, "Engineering a Segmented Dual-Reservoir Polyurethane Intravaginal Ring for Simultaneous Prevention of HIV Transmission and Unwanted Pregnancy," was published online in the journal PLoS One (2014; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088509).
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