(CBS) — Imagine a birth control device that could also protect women against sexually transmitted infections and diseases, including AIDS. A Northwestern scientist didn’t just imagine it, he created it.
In this Original Report, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley talks with the researcher whose invention could mark a new era for women’s health.
When Patrick Kiser walks the halls of Northwestern’s engineering school,he carries in his pocket the five and a half centimeter ring that could revolutionize women’s reproductive healthcare.
“Women are really concerned with both those issues: unwanted pregnancy and acquisition of an STI,” said Kiser.
This is the first device for women ever developed that could prevent both.
The flexible, plastic ring contains a 90-day dose of two drugs: the clear segment, a contraceptive .and the white segment, an anti-retorivral drug, which fights HIV and herpes.
Kiser says a condom would accomplish the same effect.
“You can think of this as a kind of a chemical condom,” said Kiser.
But condoms require cooperation of a male partner and the ring doesn’t.
“It will empower them to give them a tool they can use to protect themselves,” said Kiser.
In AIDS ravaged areas, the impact could be dramatic. Worldwide, 35 million people live with HIV and more than 220 million women would like to delay childbearing, but aren’t using contraception.
“Largely, I think women will use the ring for the contraceptive action and then, you’ll have this extra bonus on top of that,” said Kiser.
The breakthrough wasn’t the drugs inside the ring, it was the ring itself, developing three plastics that could reliably release the two different drugs at different rates and in the proper amounts.
Women are scheduled to begin testing the device this summer. Still, it could be seven years before it hits the market.