South Africa Approves Dapivirine Vaginal Ring

South Africa Approves Dapivirine Vaginal Ring

Photo by Andrew Loxley/Courtesy IPM

On March 11, 2022, the nonprofit International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) announced that the monthly dapivirine vaginal ring received regulatory approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for use by women ages eighteen and older to reduce their HIV risk.
With nearly two-thirds of new adult transmissions in South Africa—and across sub-Saharan Africa—occurring among women, women bear a disproportionate burden of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. In South Africa, every week, nearly 2,700 women ages fifteen and older acquire HIV. Expanding women’s HIV prevention choices so that they can choose the method that best meets their individual needs helps to ensure their sexual and reproductive health and rights and aids in controlling the pandemic.

The monthly dapivirine ring offers women a long-acting HIV prevention product that they can control and use discreetly to reduce the risk of HIV transmission during vaginal sex, 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, with minimal exposure elsewhere in the body.

This approval brings the first long-acting and woman-controlled product another step closer to reaching women. IPM has applied for approval for the ring’s use in eastern and southern Africa, and plans to apply elsewhere in Africa in the future. The dapivirine ring has also been approved in Zimbabwe.

“I’m grateful and delighted to hear that South Africa has the regulatory go-ahead,” Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker, professor of medicine and deputy director of the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation and immediate past president of the International AIDS Society, said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to the next steps to see this wonderful HIV prevention choice in the hands of women all over South Africa as soon as possible.”

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