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."