HIV is a global pandemic that has impacted the whole world for decades, and yet there is no sight of a vaccine for HIV due to the ability of this virus to mutate rapidly. The virus attacks the helper-T lymphocytes of the immune system to sustain itself by proliferation and multiplication within these cells. It hijacks the metabolic machinery of the host enabling it to continue its replication freely. HIV among women has been a common and increasingly frequent dilemma in the modern world.
The higher prevalence of HIV among women over the past decade may be due to increases in sexual activity with multiple partners, and minimal awareness regarding the importance of protection. Women are found to be less inclined to use protective wear during sexual intercourse making them more vulnerable to having HIV infection. Apart from this, women are at higher risk of acquiring the virus than men due to their exposure to their partner’s bodily fluids which may contain the virus. Several strategies have been employed to reduce the prevalence of this infectious disease among women. Although to date, there is no reliable cure for HIV, the infection can be prevented by adopting different strategies recommended by researchers and health workers.
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Vaginal Ring May Prevent HIV
European Medicines Agency (EMA) has declared the use of Daprivirine rings as a possible option to prevent HIV. The Daprivirine ring discharges anti-HIV chemicals in the vagina, thus reducing the risk of HIV infection. Daprivirins is a microbicide and is made up of the flexible polymer, silicon. It is delivered right at the location where susceptibility to infection is highest. The ring is relatively easy to use but needs to be replaced every month. The utilization of this ring in the absence of reliable preventive cures for HIV infection can be a reliable option for women.
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HIV is more widespread among females in Sub Sahara African countries. According to UNAIDS, above one-third of newly reported cases of HIV are in women of Sub Sahara countries.
Two trials were conducted to test the effectiveness of the Daprivirine ring to reduce the risk of HIV infection among Sub Sahara African women. These trials were sponsored by NIAID in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the results, the infection rate was reduced by 30% among women aged 18-45.
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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) contributed to sponsoring the NIAIDS to carry out the current study.
The Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM) has been involved in designing and developing the Daprivirine ring. Scientific judgment from EMA studies has confirmed the effectiveness and safety of the Daprivirine drug. The drug is developed to help underdeveloped countries (where the prevalence of HIV is higher) to combat the deadly infection. Researchers further intend to analyze the efficacy of the drug during adolescence, breastfeeding, and pregnancy period.
WHO (World Health Organization) is also actively involved in this procedure as it has accessed and evaluated the efficacy and safety associated with the drug. IPM in collaboration with World Health Organization intends to take official permission from African regulatory Authorities so that the prevalence of HIV infection among women can be reduced.
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EMA has recommended that IPM conduct some additional research to evaluate and analyze the effectiveness of the Daprivine ring among heterosexual women. NIAID is currently focusing on the development of additional preventive tools and strategies to analyze the variations found in different populations regarding the effectiveness of the drug.