Vaginal Silicone Ring Aids in HIV/Herpes Prevention

Vaginal rings show promise for administering medication and preventing the spread of sexual transmitted infections.

Vaginal rings show promise for administering medication and preventing the spread of sexual transmitted infections.

Researchers at University Jean Monnet of Saint-Etienne, France have developed a vaginal silicone ring that administers molecules that act on both HIV and herpes virus.

“We succeeded in creating a ring that can deliver hydrophilic molecules such as tenofovir, active on HIV-1, and acyclovir, active on herpes virus, despite the fact that silicone is a hydrophobic compound,” said study author Meriam Memmi, PhD candidate at University Jean Monnet.

This was made possible due to the addition of a hydrophilic compound to the silicone, allowing the release of the drugs from its reservoirs.

Vaginal rings present a more promising avenue for administering medication and preventing the spread of sexual transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV in young women with high risk of exposure. Some of the rings within the study were shown to have administered medication at a rate of 1.5 and 3.5 mg/day for acyclovir and 3 to 5 mg/day for tenofovir for as long as 50 days.

This corresponds to doses capable of preventing infection of HIV-1, hepatitis B, and genital herpes. The results illustrate the capability of silicone rings to administer hydrophilic antiviral drugs for an extended period of time at a concentration that would be effective for prevention.

The next step for scientists is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the rings in clinical trials and produce them at a high rate with low cost to patients.

“The aim of our study was to develop a vaginal silicone ring that was nontoxic to the health of users, but was capable of delivering multiple active antiviral molecules against various STIs, including HIV for a long duration,” said Memmi.

STIs of viral origin are of major concern to the public, especially for young women in low-income areas who were infected with HIV-1 early on in their sexual life.

“It is difficult for women in these countries to master the prevention of STIs since the use of condoms and circumcision is mainly under the control of men,” said Memmi.

As scientists conduct further research on the silicone rings, they can hopefully get them into production and into the hands of the patients who need them the most, especially for those women in low-income countries.