By: Taren Vaughan
Normally, when we think of a vaginal ring, the first thing that comes to mind is birth control. But that is soon about to change.
Recently in Africa, researchers launched the very first study of a vaginal ring that could prevent HIV infection in females. This is not your average ring as it does not transmit hormones into the woman’s body. Instead, it will release antiretrovirals into the body, allowing the immune system to build a defense against the virus.
The International Partnership For Microbicides (IPM) will be conducting a series of studies to test out the ring, which will contain the antiretroviral dapivirine. With any scientific study, researchers will be able to see exactly how effective this new device is and how receptive the study participants are to it. IPM spokeswoman Pamela Norick discussed the importance of product acceptance amongst consumers:
“You have to make sure that a product is acceptable before you test its efficacy, because if people don’t like the product, what’s the point?” –Pamela Norick
Norick is absolutely correct with her statement. If the target market, in this case which is women, are not going to stand behind the product, then it is pointless to continue on with extensive research on it. Luckily, the women who do know about this phenomenal device have offered nothing but positive feedback.
Using a ring as a preventive method against contracting HIV was quite clever on behalf of the research team. It will eliminate having to receive a vaccine by injection. This is great news for those who have an extreme fear of the needle. And if you are anything like me, you will avoid a needle at all cost.
If this vaginal ring is proven successful, this would be the scientific breakthrough of a lifetime. Millions of people across the world are affected by HIV whether they have the virus themselves or know someone that does. A discovery like this could lead to a universal vaccine for people of both genders and the development of an actual cure for HIV/AIDS. As far as affordability is concerned, that has yet to be discussed with detail. But with a life changing device like this, I’m certain that we will find a way to make it accesible to those in need of it.