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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Gynecology: Intravaginal Ring Could Be Used in New Approach to


Women's Health Weekly (10.16.03) - Friday, October 31, 2003

Scientists at Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, have developed an intravaginal ring that has potential use as part of a strategy to combat HIV, the British Pharmaceutical Conference has been told. The silicone rubber ring releases the antibiotic metronidazole to treat bacterial vaginosis. Patients receive a steadily decreasing dose of the drug over 14 days, avoiding side effects associated with oral administration and the messiness of vaginal gels.

Dr. Karl Malcolm believes that a ring releasing metronidazole, either alone or in conjunction with an antiretroviral agent, could potentially prevent HIV infection. "Bacterial vaginosis, and other sexually transmitted diseases, have been widely implicated in an increased risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection," he said. "Whereas HIV does not survive long in the normal acidic environment of the vagina, it thrives at the elevated pH associated with bacterial vaginosis infection. Simply treating existing, and in many cases asymptomatic, vaginal infections could have a massive impact on sexually transmitted HIV statistics." "The chance of an effective HIV vaccine being developed and marketed within the next 10 years is slim to say the least," Malcolm continued. "Of course, it is imperative that the vaccine research continues, but it is equally imperative that alternative preventative strategies are pursued. Vaginal microbicides are the obvious alternative."


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Information in this article was accurate in October 31, 2003. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.