Research Update: HIV Prevention and Treatment among Women and Girls

Content From: HIV.govPublished: March 01, 20193 min read


Photo of the ring and a Truvada pill
Credit: NIAID

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently shared news on two studies underway that are exploring HIV prevention and treatment issues specifically for women and girls. One study seeks to expand HIV prevention for adolescent girls and young women who are disproportionately impacted by HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. The other study is exploring how pregnancy affects the way a woman’s body processes antiretroviral and tuberculosis (TB) drugs taken separately or together, or—after pregnancy—with hormonal contraceptives. As you prepare for National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on March 10, read up on these research developments.

Study of PrEP and Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention Begins in Girls and Young Women

A clinical trial has begun to examine the safety and use of two HIV prevention tools—oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and a vaginal ring—in adolescent girls and young women in southern Africa. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the trial is designed to contribute to the delivery of safe, effective and desirable choices of HIV prevention methods for adolescent girls and young women, who are disproportionately affectedExit Disclaimer [PDF, 1.9MB] by the HIV epidemic.

The Phase 2a clinical trial is called REACH, for Reversing the Epidemic in Africa with Choices in HIV prevention. It will enroll 300 girls and young women ages 16 to 21 years at five sites in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The ring in the study, which is replaced once a month, continuously releases the anti-HIV drug dapivirine in the vagina. The ring is currently undergoing regulatory review by the European Medicines Agency. PrEP involves taking a daily oral tablet containing two anti-HIV drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine. After using each of these HIV prevention methods for six months, study participants may choose to use either one of the two methods—or neither—for another six months. Investigators will evaluate product safety, the extent to which study participants use the products, and how much participants report liking each product. Read NIAID’s full news release.

NIH Study Examines How Pregnancy Affects Drugs for HIV and TB in People Living with HIV

An NIH study into how pregnancy affects the body’s processing of drugs for HIV and TB in women being treated for HIV infection recently enrolled its 1,001st study participant, enabling investigators to build one of the world’s largest data sets of its kind. The study has generated and published data on more than 20 of the most commonly used HIV drugs, known as antiretrovirals, as well as many commonly prescribed TB therapies and contraceptives used after giving birth. These data have helped provide a foundation for national and international HIV treatment guidelines for women living with HIV who are pregnant or have recently given birth. Read the full NIAID Now blog post.