An experimental vaginal ring meant to prevent pregnancy and HIV looks safe, according to an early stage study.
The dual-purpose ring releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine and the contraceptive hormone levonorgestrel, said researchers led by Dr. Sharon Achilles, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“We are very encouraged by our findings in this first-in-human study of the dapivirine-levonorgestrel ring,” said Achilles, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
The ring is designed to provide 90 days’ protection at a time.
This small, 14-day trial involving 24 women who were not pregnant and not infected with HIV was the first clinical study of the ring. Its use resulted in sufficient levels of levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy and adequate levels of dapivirine to reduce risk of HIV infection, the researchers reported.
There were no safety concerns, and the ring was well-tolerated, according to the Microbicide Trials Network study. The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and presented Wednesday at an HIV prevention conference, in Madrid, Spain.
The researchers have started a second Phase 1 trial in which women will use the ring for 90 days.
“With a second study underway, we are another step closer to potentially having an easy-to-use product that can provide safe and effective, long-acting protection against both HIV and unintended pregnancy,” Achilles said in a network news release.
Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more on HIV/AIDS.
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