Dr. Zeda Rosenberg (below) has been CEO of International Partnerships for Microbicides (IPM) since its founding in 2002. IPM's mission is to prevent HIV transmission by accelerating the development and availability of safe and effective microbicides for use by women in developing countries. In June, IPM announced that an efficacy and safety study of a new vaginal ring containing the ARV dapivirine was underway in Africa. Dr. Rosenberg talks to GlobalPost about the ring, the theory behind it, and why it could be an important tool to empowering women and stemming the HIV epidemic in Africa.
Q: How long will this trial last?
A: The trial will last likely a total of three years. All of the women in our studies will receive product for a total of two years with a follow-up visit after that and it will likely take up to a year to enroll.
Q: Can you explain why it is so revolutionary for women in Africa?
A: We know that women are still at very high risk of HIV infection. Historically women have borne the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They are more susceptible to infection than men during sex. And if you combine that with all of the issues surrounding women’s lives that may make them unable to negotiate condom use or other well-established HIV prevention tools, it means that women really need something that they have under their control. So the notion of a microbicide was that women can decide that they want to protect themselves and use a product themselves, rather than trying to get their male partner to use a condom or to accept the use of a female condom.