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Experts root for new HIV vaginal ring

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Experts are now calling upon women to use a vaginal ring to prevent HIV.

“The ring has a drug that prevents a woman from contracting HIV. It is replaced every month. Research has been conducted in many countries, including Africa, showing its effectiveness. Further, it lacks any side effects. WHO has already done pre-qualification, countries can get approvals and procure the product to protect women,” said Dr Elizabeth Irungu in an interview with HealthyNation during a recent meeting by Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture in Mombasa.

Dr Irungu from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology said the ring is useful especially to young women in Kenya, who are at risk of contracting HIV.

“We have condoms and oral pills, but many women are still contracting the virus. But the vaginal ring gives women options,” said the HIV researcher.

Corruption a challenge
Dubbed Dapivirine Ring (DPV-VR), it is made of flexible silicone inserted inside the vagina and replaced every month. The ring gradually releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine in the vagina with minimal absorption in the body.

Rosemary Mburu, a health advocate, urged the government to invest funds to ensure Kenya gets the dapivirine ring. “Following the WHO pre-qualification, Kenya must now start the national regulation process. The new technology should be prioritised; it is a boost in reducing HIV especially among adolescent girls and young women. Covid-19 has exposed the challenges in the sector. Corruption is also a major challenge that should be addressed,” she said. – Nation Media Group

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