Malawi women are said to be using secret ring that they insert into their vagina used as preventive measure to help stop the spread of HIV from their partners who they suspect of cheating or who refuse to wear a condom.
Coated in experimental medication dapivirine, an antiretroviral drug, the ring fits high up inside the vagina, prevents the virus being contracted and is effective for a month.
Men in the country have many sexual partners and cultural practices make it hard for women to negotiate safe sex – and is a major reason why HIV infection is so high. At least 10 percent of the population has HIV and it is hoped the ring, which men reportedly cannot feel, will help stop the spread in secret.
Nurse and midwife Agnes Malema told the BBC: ‘THe HIV in Malawi was really bad. Our wards were full. I can say the whole nation was sick. Everybody has been involved, everybody has lost loved ones. ‘Normally in our culture negotiating sex with a partner is rather difficult, especially the partner putting on a condom. It’s really a challenge.’
There are currently one million people in Malawi living with the disease and last year there were 24,000 AIDS-related deaths, according to The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).