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An Object that Offers Hidden Protection to Women against HIV

Update Date: Mar 01, 2016 02:02 PM EST

A vaginal ring has the potential of protecting women in Sub-Saharan Africa from the risk of HIV, say public health experts that are excited at the prospect.

However, the research that demonstrates the effectiveness of ring also reveals flipsides in the earlier strategies for prevention of HIV, like vaginal gels and antiretroviral pills.

Of the 35 million people in the world infected with HIV, half of them are women and most of these women live in Sub-Saharan Africa where there is no access to medical care and inequality between men and women makes women unable to adequately protect themselves against HIV.

For instance, a pill called PReP is designed to thwart the spreading of HIV among high-risk groups, that has revealed a 100% success rate in California gay men. However, according to previous studies, PReP has been a failure for African women, not because of biological reasons but because of societal and cultural obstacles that prevent women from taking the pill everyday.

But the researchers hope that with this new vaginal ring, women will be able to protect themselves discretely as it will remain unnoticeable for the men and needs to be replaced only once in 4-weeks.

However, according to a multinational trial published in New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that the ring's overall effectiveness is only 27%. When the researchers analyzed the data again, they removed the non-complying participants and the group of young women aged between 18 and 24 years, the effectiveness of the ring increased to 61% which offers a much higher level of prevention.

The ring is the clue that the researchers need to take to develop a kind of HIV prevention technique that the subjugated, high risk women of Africa, who cannot make medical decisions or lack control over their bodies, can use successfully, as reported by Huffington Post

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