In the latest issue of the medical journal AIDS, researchers from the Weill Cornell Medical College detailed advancements in a new contraception device that prevents transmission of HIV. The vaginal ring —similar to the NuvaRing — has proven successful in laboratory tests and could provide a breakthrough method in STD prevention.
Because the ring is not hormone-based, it does not have some of the negative side-effects that birth control carries, yet still offers pregnancy prevention. Instead, the ring functions by combining various anti-viral and HIV-fighting drugs with other compounds that stop sperm motility, increase vaginal mucous viscosity and create an acidic environment in which sperm cannot survive.
Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, who co-authored the study, views the ring as a way to deal with the growing AIDS epidemic.
"No one has ever conquered a viral epidemic with treatment, so prevention is the most effective option. Ideally, an HIV vaccine is the most desirable method, but that is not foreseeable in the near future," he said.
Each year, 5 million new people become infected with HIV and millions more die from AIDS-related illnesses. The approval of this ring could change the impact HIV/AIDS have on the world and could be one of the first steps in eradicating the disease. And with a vaccine still a distant reality, any method of slowing or stopping the rate of transmission will make a difference.
Read more about the ring from the Weill Cornell Medical School.