WASHINGTON (AP) — Major new research is beginning in Africa to see whether a special kind of vaginal ring might help protect women from the AIDS virus.
Giving women tools to protect themselves when their sexual partners won't use a condom is crucial for battling the epidemic. Women already make up half of the 34.2 million people worldwide living with HIV. Even more — 60 percent — in hard-hit Africa are women.
But developing what are called microbicides has proved difficult. Previous research found an experimental anti-AIDS vaginal gel offered partial protection, but remembering to use it every time they have sex would be a hurdle for some women.
Now researchers are testing a vaginal ring that's inserted once a month and slowly releases an anti-AIDS drug into the surrounding tissue.