There is a need “for self-initiated products that women, especially young women, can and will use consistently. Women need practical and discreet tools that they can use to protect themselves from HIV infection,” said Dr. Flavia Matovu, an epidemiologist and investigator with the Makerere University-Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration, based in Uganda.
Now, researchers including Matovu hope they may have an option in the vaginal ring, a flexible piece of silicon laced with an antiretroviral medication. Women insert it near their cervix, where it can safely remain for about a month, slowing releasing the drug at the site of a potential infection. The method is being tested in two crucial “open label” extension studies, wherein all willing participants will receive the medicated ring, rather than a placebo.