Photo: Courtesy of NuvaRing.
A brand new intravaginal ring (IVR) has shown exciting promise in both protecting against unwanted pregnancy and HIV. The ring has been engineered to release tenofovir and levonorgestrel — the first time both these drugs and the unique IVR delivery have been used in tandem. (Tenofovir, when in gel form, is the only compound that has been shown to protect against the sexual transmission of HIV. Levonogestrel is a hormone already used in contraceptives.)
But, while the use of tenofovir has been shown to substantially reduce the transmission of HIV when used before exposure — it is by no means 100% effective. And, since researchers are saying the tenofovir-release ring has similar success rate to that of the gel, a condom would definitely still be necessary to more completely protect against the disease.
That being said, there are millions of people who are HIV-positive in the world, and there are millions more unintended pregnancies. Often, these occur in some of the poorest countries in the world — places where medical care is sparse or unaffordable. A simple, affordable option that can help to protect women for disease and pregnancy could be a HUGE deal, both here and abroad.