11 March 2022: The nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) today announced that the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring received regulatory approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for its use by women ages 18 and older to reduce their HIV risk. This marks a major milestone that brings the first long-acting and woman-controlled product another step closer to reaching women.
Women bear a disproportionate burden of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, with nearly two-thirds of new adult infections in South Africa—and across sub-Saharan Africa—occurring among women. In South Africa, every week, nearly 2,700 women ages 15 and older acquire HIV. Expanding women’s HIV prevention choices so that they can choose the method that best meets their individual needs is critical to controlling the epidemic, and ensuring their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
DTHC Director, Prof. Linda-Gail Bekker, says the decison is a very welcome one: “The vaginal ring is part of the next generation of less frequently dosed PrEP to enable more women the opportunity to protect themselves from HIV infection.”
The monthly dapivirine ring could help fill a gap by offering women a long-acting HIV prevention product that they can control and use discreetly to reduce the risk of HIV transmission during vaginal sex. It will provide an important option for women who cannot or choose not to use higher efficacy products such as daily oral PrEP. Women insert the product themselves and replace it every month. Made of flexible silicone, the ring slowly releases the antiretroviral (ARV) drug dapivirine directly in the vagina at the site of potential infection, with minimal exposure elsewhere in the body.