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New birth control could prevent HIV infections

Category: HIV

A new birth control device that may be effective in preventing HIV infections is set to undergo testing. The research about the device was presented at the 2013 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Antonio and shows promise for a device that could help prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as the spread of the deadly sexually transmitted disease.

The new birth control device
The new device is a type of intravaginal ring that research suggests should be able to prevent both pregnancies and HIV infection. The ring secretes two different drugs, tenofovir and levonorgestrel, which prevent the spread of HIV and unwanted pregnancies, respectively. The device showed promise in lab tests with both rabbits and sheep, and human testing is set to begin soon. The device may help people diagnosed with HIV through STD testing.

"We saw the urgent need to make this dual-protection intravaginal ring because a majority of the world's unintended pregnancies occur within resource-poor regions where the HIV/AIDS pandemic is most prevalent, such as sub-Saharan Africa,. MPTs [multipurpose prevention technologies] are a relatively new reproductive health technology that we expect will have a good deal of support from potential users, donors, and public health organizations, particularly in the developing world. We anticipate a lot of excitement for this product, as it is the first dual-protection ring to be evaluated clinically," said Meredith Clark, Ph.D., one of the researchers of the new device.

The spread of HIV
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV is most commonly spread in the U.S. from vaginal or anal sex as well as the sharing of intravenous drug equipment, like needles. The agency recommended that everyone receive STD tests for the disease at least once in his or her lifetime, while those who are at risk for the disease should be tested more often.

Those at risk are people who have multiple sexual partners without using protection. For those who think they may have been exposed to the STD, starting immediate treatment can sometimes prevent the infection from taking hold. A lab test online can reveal whether the virus is present. While there is no cure for HIV, treatments can help manage the symptoms and greatly extend lifetimes for those infected.

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