Thursday, March 6, 2014

Experimental Device Could Prevent HIV & Pregnancy in Women

A new experimental device can protect against HIV and herpes while also preventing pregnancy. Two segments of the ring deliver different drugs, tenofovir (TNV), an antiretroviral, and levonorgestrel (LNG), a hormonal contraceptive. 

An experimental device could protect women from HIV and herpes while also preventing pregnancy, studies in animals suggest.

The device, a flexible plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina, delivers three months of both an antiretroviral drug and a contraceptive drug. So far, the ring has been tested only in sheep and rabbits. But if it is shown to be effective in humans, it could provide a way for women in the developing world to avoid unwanted pregnancies while also shielding them from sexually transmitted diseases.

"In many ways, you can think about this functioning similarly to a condom," said study co-author Patrick Kiser, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University. "It prevents STI [sexually transmitted infection] transmission, and it would prevent unwanted pregnancy, but it's woman-controlled." [Quiz: Test Your STD Smarts
Long road

The hunt for a female-controlled method to protect against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has a long history littered with failures. In the developing world, many women are infected with HIV by their husbands, who may resist wearing condoms.  And convenient contraception isn't always available, Kiser said.

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