Vaginal rings that will protect women from HIV to be produced in South Africa
Kiara Health, a South African company, is set to start locally manufacturing vaginal rings in the next few years for protection against HIV among African women, the Population Council announced on Thursday.
The silicone rings are devices for women that release the drug dapivirine in slow doses over a month for the prevention of HIV at substantial risk, but experts have begun research to develop a version that would last up to three months.
Currently, the Population Council, a nonprofit organisation, owns the rights to the rings, and the devices are manufactured by a Swedish company, with one ring costing between $12 and $16.
Meanwhile, experts believe that producing the rings in South Africa will reduce the device’s price and give African women access to the ring, which has been authorised for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dozens of countries have also approved the use of silicone rings.
Around 500,000 rings purchased by donors are available for African women at no cost, VOA reported. An estimated one million rings could be produced annually when Kiara Health starts manufacturing the device locally.
According to WHO, HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age in Africa, and 60 per cent of new infections are reported in women.
“For women whose partners won’t use a condom or allow them to take oral (preventive HIV) medicines, this gives them another option,” Ben Phillips, a spokesperson at the UN AIDS agency, said.