Scientists at the University of Utah have developed a new gel that stays liquid in the vagina, solidifying after contact with a man’s less acidic (greater pH) semen.
This is unlike other gel condoms, which have remained liquid. These others, however, have largely failed. One even increased the odds of HIV infection.
By fluorescently dying the HIV, however, scientists have proven that the new gel prevents the virus from ever touching the vagina. Patrick Kiser and his Utah team are now trying to introduce anti-HIV chemicals to actually kill the trapped virus.
The gel is meant to prevent the passage of any particles larger than 50 nanometers across, including herpes, the human papilloma virus, and sperm.
FDA testing is expected in 3-5 years, the gel reaching the market some years after that.
It is hoped that the new condom will prove an instrumental tool in Africa, where women have difficulty forcing their men to wear condoms. A previous gel condom was even discontinued, not because of inefficiency, but mass disuse.
The condom is currently effective for a few hours, but the Utah team is working to increase that timeframe.
According to WHO and UNAIDS, “33 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2007. That same year, some 2.7 million people became newly infected, and 2 million died of AIDS, including 270 000 children. Two thirds of HIV infections are in sub-Saharan Africa.”
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