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A company in South Africa will soon begin producing vaginal rings designed to prevent HIV infection.
Africa Science & Health

A company in South Africa will soon begin producing vaginal rings designed to prevent HIV infection.

A company in South Africa plans to produce vaginal rings that can prevent HIV transmission. This development has been praised by AIDS experts, who believe it will ultimately lead to lower costs and wider accessibility.

On Thursday, the Population Council shared that Kiara Health, based in Johannesburg, will begin manufacturing silicone rings in the upcoming years. They anticipate producing 1 million rings per year. These rings release a medication that aids in preventing HIV infections and have been approved by approximately 12 countries and the World Health Organization.

The rings, currently manufactured by a Swedish company, are owned by the nonprofit council. Around 500,000 rings have been donated for women in Africa and are provided at no cost.

According to Ben Phillips, a representative of the U.N. AIDS agency, the ring offers the benefit of allowing women to use it discreetly and without needing anyone else’s permission.

According to him, this provides an alternative for women whose partners refuse to use a condom or let them take preventive HIV medicines orally.

According to statistics from the WHO, HIV continues to be the primary cause of death for women in Africa who are of reproductive age. Additionally, 60% of new infections are occurring in women.

The ring gradually administers dapivirine medication for a period of one month. Although it currently has a price range of $12 to $16, experts predict a decrease in cost as production becomes more widespread in Africa. There are also efforts to create a three-month version of the ring, which would result in a reduced annual expense.

The WHO suggests using the ring as an extra precaution for women at high risk of contracting HIV. Regulators in multiple African nations, such as South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, have also approved its use. The WHO based their decision on two extensive studies, which showed a 33% decrease in HIV transmission with the use of the ring. Other research has indicated an even greater reduction of over 50%.

During last year’s largest AIDS conference, activists stormed the stage to protest and urge donors to purchase silicone rings for women in Africa.