Ringed wonder : Intra - Vaginal ring for HIV prevention and contraception

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

One night of careless passion is enough to make you spend the rest of your life regretting it. Thoughts about being infected with HIV or chances of pregnancy are enough to destroy the mental peace.

HIV infection is an extremely dreaded one. The window period of 3 months to know whether or not you are infected, can make your life hell. If unfortunately you find out that you are positive, life can be turned Topsy-turvy.

The seriousness of HIV and its rapid spread to the extent of becoming an epidemic, have lead scientists all over the world to do something about this. With concentrated focus on a permanent cure for HIV gaining no results, researchers have started putting in efforts into prevention of HIV infection.

This did meet with success with the development of a vaginal cream containing the anti-retroviral drug Tenofovir.

Though hugely successful in preventing the transmission of HIV, the vaginal cream had its share of drawbacks too. The major one being that it had to be applied just before intercourse.

Keeping all this in mind, scientists from the University of Utah in the USA have now developed an intra-vaginal ring for the prevention of HIV. This is a long term ring and once put in, it can be left there for a period of 90 days. It is filled with the drug Tenofovir which is released periodically into the body. This provides a perfect solution for HIV transmission woes. This ring has shown 100% efficacy in preventing the transmission of HIV in monkeys. It now remains to be tested on humans.

What makes this ring even more special is that it is a dual purpose ring. It can additionally be loaded with levonorgestrel, the popular contraceptive.

Thus the intra-vaginal ring serves as a prophylactic against HIV infection as well as a contraceptive!

HIV prevention in women, in the future, could come from something as simple as an intra-vaginal ring!