AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Africa Bureau welcomed today South Africa’s approval of the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for use by women ages 18 and older as a step in the right direction in HIV prevention. The recommendation follows an announcement by the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM)—developers of the vaginal ring—that its product had received a nod from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the DPV-VR is a silicone ring that gives women alternatives and control over reducing their risk of HIV infection. The ring, which should be worn inside the vagina, operates by gradually discharging the antiretroviral drug dapivirine into the vagina over a 28-day period to help protect women from HIV.
“This news that advances HIV prevention options and sexual reproductive health rights for women in South Africa could not have come at a better time than in the month we commemorate International Women’s Day and Women’s History; Especially for a demographic that is disproportionately affected by HIV in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief.
“We know that unequal power dynamics contribute greatly to limiting many women’s ability to negotiate safer-sex or condom use, which puts them at risk of HIV,” Dr. Iutung added. “Thus, this approval by the South African government is a game-changer, as it offers women more biomedical HIV prevention choices that are female-initiated and long-acting, and we look forward to working with the government to bring the ring closer to South African women in the facilities and communities we serve.”
Since 2002, AHF has partnered with the South African government through its AHF South Africa Program to provide cutting-edge HIV treatment, care and support to more than 170,000 clients.