Dhe former head of the United Nations AIDS control program (UN AIDS), Peter Piot, should be right. 16 years ago, he told the FAZ that he was certain that microbicides would be on the market sooner than an AIDS vaccine. Microbicides are micro-killing substances that women can also use vaginally as protection against HIV without their sexual partners knowing about it. Experiments with vaginal rings started as early as 16 years ago. Four years ago, two studies showed that vaginal rings that gradually release the anti-viral active ingredient dapivirine reduce the overall risk of contracting HIV by 35 percent. A few days ago, these rings received a positive scientific opinion from the European Medicines Agency (Ema). Ema recommends its use in developing countries for women aged 18 and over.
The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) has cleared an important hurdle. The non-profit organization, founded in 2002, can now begin preparing the market launch of its dapivirine ring together with the World Health Organization in southern Africa. Many African countries recognize Ema’s opinion, which can help speed up reviews. IPM will also file an application with the United States Food and Drug Administration. As early as next year, women in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda could have additional HIV protection.