Global go-ahead for QUB device designed to combat HIV scourge

Press/Media: Research

Period01 Dec 2021

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleGlobal go-ahead for QUB device designed to combat HIV scourge
    Degree of recognitionLocal
    Media name/outletBelfast Telegraph
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionResearchers in Belfast have helped bring the first long-acting device to protect women from HIV to market.

    It was announced on World AIDS Day today that the vaginal ring designed by Queen’s University’s pharmacy school has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    The drug-releasing device, two decades in the making, is expected to reach sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, where women’s need for prevention is crucial.

    HIV is one of the most fatal conditions among females of reproductive age in the region.

    Around 37.7m people globally were living with AIDS in 2020, an estimated 20.6m of them in eastern and southern Africa.

    Dr Peter Boyd of Queen’s University said: “It’s been a long journey, but we are just thrilled to announce on World AIDS Day that this new ring product will soon be available to women to help further reduce HIV infection rates.”

    It is made of silicone elastomer, a flexible rubber-like material that is easy to insert and comfortable to use.

    It works by releasing the antiretroviral drug dapivirine slowly over 28 days.

    The sustained delivery of dapivirine was shown to reduce HIV infection in two large-scale clinical trials.

    According to local HIV charity Positive Life, there were an estimated 50 diagnoses here last year, bringing the number people living with HIV to more than 1,200.

    Positive Life has launched the ‘NI Buyers Club’, a membership-based funding project that expects to raise £500,000 to target HIV-related stigma through new projects and research to meet the changing needs of the charity’s service users.

    Research from Positive Life shows support for those with HIV is “chronically underfunded”, while the stigma still runs deep.

    A recent survey commissioned by the charity found that out of more than 1,000 responses, 39% would not approve of a family member dating someone with HIV; 22% would not approve of someone with HIV looking after their child, and 71% believe more should be done in schools to improve understanding of the infection.

    Thanks to preventative measures and treatments, dying from HIV in the UK is now rare, but the charity points out that people who live with it still feel shame.

    Positive Life chief executive Jacquie Richardson said: “HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was, and advances allow those living with HIV to lead full and rewarding lives.

    “However, the stigma attached to HIV here in Northern Ireland has such a crippling impact on people that it often leads to mental health issues, family break-ups and a level of shame that remains unaddressed.”

    Founding member of the buyers club Kirsty McManus said that while many people feel AIDS is no longer a major crisis, she said the club “represents a bold new initiative from Positive Life in its mission to tackle the crippling levels of stigma that still exist”.

    Belfast Lord Mayor Kate Nicholl said: “I have been really proud to have Positive Life as one of my mayoral charities of the year throughout my time in office.

    “For many years now they have been playing a truly vital role in supporting individuals, families and whole communities impacted by HIV in Belfast and further afield.

    “It is really positive to see there has been a decrease in the number of new HIV cases for the latest reporting period, which is in no small part due to the actions of Positive Life, who have been at the forefront of awareness raising and education outreach campaigns.”
    Producer/AuthorOlivia Fletcher
    PersonsKarl Malcolm, Peter Boyd