The U.S government has committed to funding a new round of testing for a HIV prevention ring for women.
The ring is infused with dapivirine, an anti-HIV drug, and is to be implanted once a month in order to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. Dapivirine works by preventing HIV from replicating its genetic material after the virus enters a healthy cell.
Previous studies done with the dapivirine ring revealed that its efficacy is about 27% in women under 25. However, in women over 25, that number rises to about 61%. Researchers say that though there may be a biological difference between older and younger women, it’s likely that the reason for the difference in effectiveness is that younger women may be taking the ring out too soon or that they may not be as committed to the study as the older women are.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks to this theory saying that “Sometimes people come into studies because they like the advantage of being in a study, but they don’t want to do the intervention.”
Since they now know that the ring can work when used as instructed, researchers say they are hopeful that this will convince more women to use it consistently and correctly, giving them better results in the next round of testing.