Two large studies show monthly vaginal ring helps protect women against HIV

The Ring Study and ASPIRE - have shown that a monthly vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral drug (ARV) dapivirine can safely help prevent HIV-1 infection in women and may be an important HIV prevention option for women at risk of HIV infection.

The Ring study, led by IPM, showed that the monthly dapivirine ring safely reduced HIV infection overall by 31 percent compared to a placebo. Similar results were seen in ASPIRE, led by the US National Institutes of Health–funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), which found that the ring safely reduced infection by 27 perecent overall.

This is the first time two Phase III studies have confirmed statistically significant efficacy for a microbicide to prevent HIV. Notably, both studies saw important differences in efficacy by age and consistency of ring use, or adherence. ASPIRE showed that that the ring reduced HIV risk by 61 percent in women older than age 25, and in a post-hoc analysis by 56 perecent in women older than 21, who also appeared to use the ring more consistently.

These findings were statistically significant and supported by a trend in The Ring Study which also showed a higher efficacy (37 percent) for women over 21. The IPM 027 (The Ring Study), sponsored by the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) enrolled 1,959 women from 7 sites in South Africa and Uganda.

The study began in 2012 and 197 women were enrolled at the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS- Masaka field station. Results from both studies were reported at this year’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston.

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