The NIH-funded NC TraCS Institute at UNC is a CTSA hub founded as a service to the research community— guiding investigators and study teams through clinical trials and regulatory approval, all the way to implementation in patient care.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, comprising more than half of the estimated 37.9 million people living with the disease. Moreover, according to United Nations AIDS, some regions of the world, like sub-Saharan Africa, have an even higher burden, with women and girls constituting over 57% of the affected population, compared to 52% worldwide. With an unwavering increase of the disease along with antiretroviral treatments that can only help control the virus, not kill it, preventing HIV infection is essential. Researchers have been investigating for many years the use of intravaginal rings (IVRs) as devices for the delivery of agents to protect against the sexual transmission of HIV and other diseases, as well as to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Adherence to a strict HIV regimen is an essential part of effective HIV treatment. Medication should be taken every day, at specific times of the day, and with or without certain kinds of food. Making this process easier would, undoubtedly, increase medication adherence and improve the efficacy of current HIV treatment plans.
Rahima Benhabbour has always been an advocate for women’s health issues. As an assistant professor in the UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering and an adjunct professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, her passion is to develop innovative technologies that prevent HIV infections and other health conditions in women.
On a mission for innovation and translational science, Rahima Benhabbour is using 3D-printing technology and her startup company AnelleO to create a breakthrough in women’s health.
Dr. Soumya Rahima Benhabbour is from the North African country of Morocco where, according to UNAIDS, there has been a 42 percent reduction in new HIV infections since 2010.
That’s good news to Benhabbour, whose dream is to empower women and those in greatest need.
The long-acting antiretroviral drug formulation, developed by UNC School of Medicine researchers Rahima Benhabbour, PhD and Martina Kovarova, PhD, is injected under the skin and forms into a solid implant that dissolves slowly to release anti-HIV medication over time.