A South African Firm Will Produce HIV-Protective Rings

A business based in South Africa will produce HIV-protective vaginal devices. According to medical experts, this should eventually result in them being more readily available and less expensive. The virus known as HIV is the source of AIDS, a dangerous illness that compromises the immune system, the body’s natural defense mechanism. An international nonprofit organization called the Population Council conducts medical research. Kiara Health, a South African healthcare business, recently revealed that within the next five years, they will begin producing the devices, or rings, from silicone, a medical substance. One million might be produced annually, according to the projection. A medication that helps prevent HIV infections is released by the devices. The World Health Organization and about a dozen other nations have approved them (WHO).

 

The rights to the ring are owned by the nonprofit organization; a Swedish company is now producing them. Currently, 500,000 rings that donors have purchased are freely available to women in Africa. A spokesman for the United Nations AIDS agency is Ben Phillips. According to him, women are free to use the ring without asking permission or getting anybody else’s consent. “This gives them another option—women whose partners won’t use a condom or let them take oral (preventative HIV) medicines,” he said. A male partner uses a condom to avoid getting pregnant and to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

 

In Africa, HIV continues to be the primary cause of death among women who are fertile. Furthermore, data from the WHO indicates that women account for 60% of new infections. For a month, the ring delivers tiny doses of the medication dapivirine. Although it presently costs $12 to $16, experts predict that once it is produced extensively in Africa, the price will decrease. Additionally, a version that lasts up to three months is being developed by developers, which should also reduce the annual cost. The WHO recommends using the ring as an extra tool for women who are at high risk of HIV. It has also received approval from authorities in over a dozen African nations, including South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. According to two studies cited by WHO in support of its approval, the ring decreased women’s risk of contracting HIV by roughly one-third. However, other studies have indicated that there may be a greater than 50% reduction in risk.

 

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