The HOPE Study builds upon the results of the ASPIRE Study

During the AIDS 2016 meeting in Durban, South Africa, researchers affiliated with the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) announced the launch of a new study that will examine more closely the relationship between vaginal ring use and HIV prevention. The MTN is a global NIH-funded HIV prevention research enterprise housed within Magee-Womens Research Institute.

The HOPE study will build on the results of ASPIRE, a separate study that found a vaginal ring containing an antiretroviral drug called dapivirine was safe and helped protect against HIV. The HOPE study will gather additional information on the ring’s safety, how women use the ring knowing that it can help reduce their risk of HIV, and the relationship between adherence and HIV protection.

The first HOPE research site opened at the Medical Research Council of South Africa’s Verulam clinical research site in KwaZulu-Natal on July 18. Other South African sites, and sites in Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe will open in the coming weeks or months as approvals are received. The study is expected to be completed by early 2018.

Women account for nearly 60 percent of adults with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, where unprotected heterosexual sex is the primary driver of the epidemic. Despite advances in preventing HIV, women still face disproportionate risk. These studies hope to present women a choice when it comes to preventing themselves against HIV.