The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that their researchers will launch a large, multinational clinical trial this month to test the effectiveness and long-term safety of a vaginal ring to prevent HIV infection in women.
The research will encompass nearly 3,500 participants in five countries and will be known as ASPIRE, “A Study to Prevent Infection with a Ring for Extended Use (ASPIRE).”
ASPIRE’s goal is to determine whether the experimental anti-AIDS drug dapivirine can safely prevent HIV infection when continuously released in the vagina via a replaceable silicone ring. Results are expected in early 2015.
“Developing scientifically proven forms of HIV prevention that women can control is essential,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIH’s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases(NIAID). “Because the vaginal ring is a long-acting intervention, it has a potential added benefit in that women may find it relatively easy to use.”
HIV prevention is crucial for women because they represent half of the world’s HIV-infected. In Africa, 60 percent of HIV-infected adults are women.
Most women contract HIV from unprotected sex. Sadly, many women are not comfortable demanding that their sexual partners use condoms. Consequently, women need HIV prevention that they can use independently and discreetly.