By Spy Uganda
Kampala: As generations grows with technology, the Uganda’s health system seems to be advancing after Uganda has been listed among the first eight countries that will benefit from the roll out of the vaginal ring used in prevention against HIV aids, according to the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM).
Infused with microbicides, the ring, which sits on the cervix, has been shown to cut infections by 56% and now Uganda has joined other countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and South Africa who are to benefit from the development.
These come after the vaginal ring has successfully under gone three mandatory trials until it was given a nod recently by the European Medicines Agency to be used as an HIV prevention method by women who may engage in risky sex.
Among the trials the ring has been going through include the ASPIRE and the study drug trial that involved 4,500 women from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa. The trial in Uganda was conducted at sites in Masaka and Kampala, one led by the International Partnership on Microbicides and the other by the Microbicide Trials Network-MTN.
At the end of the studies, scientists established that among women who appeared to use the ring most regularly, the HIV risk was cut by more than half across all analyses and in some by 75 percent or more. The results from exploratory analyses of data suggest that even higher levels of protection can be achieved with regular and consistent use.
TheSpy Uganda has also learnt that this vaginal ring is already popular with teenage girls globally, US scientists say.
Women girls aged 15-24 account for a fifth of all new HIV infections globally and nearly 1,000 are infected every day in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Experts say that the ring frees women from relying on men to wear condoms and allows them to protect themselves confidentially.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed, “If you can give women the opportunity to protect themselves in a way that is completely confidential – that’s a long and big step to helping them. In societies where women are, unfortunately but true, somewhat second-class citizens, that makes women extremely vulnerable to getting infected with HIV.”
The six-month US trial gave the ring to 96 sexually active girls aged 15 to 17, who had not used it before and data presented at the IAS Conference on HIV Science, showed:
- 87% of the girls had detectable levels of the drug in their vagina
- 95% said the ring was easy to use
- 74% said they did not notice the ring in day-to-day life
There were some concerns before the trial that the girls’ partners would not like the feel of the ring, but it reportedly enhanced pleasure.
According to the Prof Sharon Hillier, one of the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “HIV doesn’t distinguish between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old. Access to safe and effective HIV prevention shouldn’t either, young women of all ages deserve to be protected.”