A vaginal ring women can insert themselves and that releases an experimental drug called Dapirivine has been found to reduce the risk of HIV in women according to new research out of Africa.

In one study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the risk of the transmission of HIV was reduced by about 27 percent. The results of the second study, which will be published by the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, indicates that the risk of transmission was reduced by 31 percent.

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Researchers found that the ring appeared to be more effective in women age 25 and older, and that the youngest women in the study had the highest risk. Typically, vaginal rings like those used in the study sit near the cervix and give off a controlled release of a drug to prevent pregnancy.

As a prevention strategy, these findings could mean that women will be more empowered women to better protect themselves against the HIV virus while also preventing pregnancy. The flexible rings are modeled after the rings that deliver birth control/hormone replacement therapy. According to the Washington Post, Executive Director of AVAC, Mitchell Warren called on researchers to find a process “of developing a combination ring that could protect against both HIV and pregnancy.”

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