HIV AIDS cure, prevention news and update: vaginal ring effective for prevention, study says

(REUTERS/ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA)Are vaginal rings impregnated with dapivirine effective enough to prevent HIV infection?

As the search for a cure continues by the day, an updated study initially presented during the 21st International AIDS Conference last month suggests that there were fewer infections by 65 percent in women who consistently make use of vaginal rings that contain dapivirine, further indicating that the level of effectiveness is higher in vaginal ring use.

According to the AIDS Map, this new ASPIRE study recruited 2,629 women from a couple of regions in Africa including Malawi and Uganda. These women testified that they liked the product as it is easy to use and is now a more preferred choice as opposed to other HIV prevention products such as vaginal gels.

Vaginal rings are very similar to other devices used for contraception as it is designed to be inserted in the vagina for one month. The difference that these rings have over other contraceptive devices is they are integrated with dapivirine, the anti-HIV drug developed by Janssen Therapeutics.

It is worth noting that the infections were reduced by greater levels in older women. As for women aged 18 to 21, the effectiveness was at zero percent, suggesting that there is still a great need for younger women to adhere to the use of these devices. Despite the disappointing results in younger women, AIDS organizations are hoping that these prevention devices will be used more consistently by women to further raise awareness on the effectiveness and acceptability of the devices in ladies who have a higher level of adherence.

Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, who first saw the movements of HIV back in 1981, said in June that he believes the future will bring about a "possible cure" for HIV. Speaking with NBC, the specialist said: "The fact that we're even talking about the possibility of a cure — that's the eradication of HIV from the body — is a huge milestone. We're not there yet but I think in the next 10-20 years, we'll have a cure for HIV. The cure is the next step and nowadays, we are having realistic conversation about it. This is truly amazing to me."

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