May 22, 2009
A researcher with Weill Cornell Medical College has developed a vaginal ring that releases microbicides and could prevent HIV and unplanned pregnancies, ANI/Times of India reports. Brij Saxena -- a professor of reproductive biology and endocrinology and lead author of a recent study on the ring in the journal AIDS -- said that laboratory testing showed the device would be effective at preventing HIV infection and pregnancy by releasing several types of nonhormonal agents and microbicides. He added that if proven successful in clinical trials, the device would allow women to effectively protect themselves from HIV and avoid pregnancy.
According to Saxena, the ring releases antiretroviral drugs over a period of 28 days. He noted that the device potentially could serve as an alternative method to prevent other sexually transmitted infections. Jeffrey Laurence, co-author of the study and a physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, said, "No one has ever conquered a viral epidemic with treatment, so prevention is the most effective option." He added, "Ideally, an HIV vaccine is the most desirable method, but that is not foreseeable in the near future. The next best thing would be something that would prevent infection and put the power in the susceptible female partner's control. That's the potential a device such as this can offer" (ANI/Times of India, 5/20).