HIV-Killing Condom: Fact or Fiction?
That’s a fact. A new condom capable of “killing” sexually transmitted diseases like HIV has been approved by Australian regulators and could be available within months. Australian biotech firm Starpharma has developed an antiviral compound called VivaGel, according to Australia’s ABC News.
VivaGel’s antiviral compound, when used as a condom lubricant, can reduce the risk of exposure to viruses that cause sexually transmitted diseases. In the lab, the lubricant’s antimicrobial agent astodrimer sodium inactivated up to 99.9 percent of HIV human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human papillomavirus (HPV ).
In July, Starpharma received regulatory approval from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which performs in a similar way to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The conformity assessment certification means the product will soon be available to consumers.
While condoms are considered the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases, Dr. Jackie Fairley, Starpharma’s chief executive officer said that they are not foolproof.
“Condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing either pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections and so anything that you can do to reduce the number of virus particles by inactivating them with a substance like VivaGel would reduce overall viral load.”
Dr. Fairley told ABC News that VivaGel has both antiviral and antibacterial properties, but the claims tested by the TGA are solely related to the viruses it was tested against in laboratory studies. That means the new condom cannot guarantee full protection from sexually transmitted diseases, but that the new condom is intended to help further reduce the chance of infection.
Starpharma has partnered with Ansell, the world’s second biggest condom maker, which is based in Australia, to incorporate this antiviral coating in the condom lubricant.
Starpharma and Ansell plan to launch the VivaGel-coated condom under the brand LifeStyles Dual Protect in the coming months, IFLScience.com reported. The condom will also be marketed in Japan, where VivaGel has been approved since March.
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