The Population Council is advancing the development of a non-hormonal vaginal ring with potential to provide contraception along with broad microbial action against bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria, HIV, HSV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
There is an undeniable need for new technologies to address the overlapping global burdens of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, herpes simplex virus and bacterial vaginosis. According to WHO, 214 million women per year want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. WHO has estimated annual new infections of 127 million for chlamydia, 87 million for gonorrhea, and 500 million for HSV. Globally, the overall incidence of bacterial vaginosis is 29.2% but up to 50% in sub-Saharan Africa and is associated with pre-term birth, endometriosis, urinary tract infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. Together these common STIs and BV put women at higher risk for HIV, adverse birth outcomes and stillbirth and neonatal death. Current contraceptive multi-purpose prevention technologies under development contain hormones, which some women do not prefer.
The Council is developing a user-controlled, multi-purpose prevention, non-hormonal intravaginal ring that will provide contraception and protection against sexually-transmitted infections with the added benefit of promoting vaginal health by helping to maintain optimal vaginal pH. We will be integrating end user feedback into our development program and incorporate favorable product attributes into our ring design, with the goal of increasing user acceptability and adherence. The research will involve ring design and testing, preclinical safety and efficacy evaluations, clinical evaluation, and end user testing including preferences for the physical properties of the ring.
Our data indicate that women overwhelming prefer and are more likely to use an MPT that prevents pregnancy and STI/HIV acquisition over a product that prevents only pregnancy or only STI/HIV. The non-hormonal ring would address the need for a contraceptive MPT while also providing a new, user-controlled, non-hormonal method for contraception.