Experimental ‘Invisible Condom’ Prevents HIV, Herpes Transmission, Study Shows
The "invisible condom," a heat-activated, antimicrobial, contraceptive gel currently under development, successfully acted as a physical barrier against HIV and herpes when tested on cells in the laboratory, Reuters Health reports. Researchers "have data that it is effective against herpes [and] against HIV," according to Dr. Jocelyne Piret, a scientist at Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, who is leading the project and is a co-author of the study published in the August issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases. In addition to physically blocking the viruses, the gel contains microbicides such as sodium lauryl sulfate that "further destroy" the microbes. Researchers hope that the gel will be less toxic than other spermicides currently on the market, including nonoxynol-9, which has been found to irritate the vaginal lining with frequent use and "actually foster" STD transmission. The "invisible condom" is applied in liquid form with an applicator to the vaginal area, where it "spread[s] into all crevices" and forms a gel when heated to body temperature. Piret said that the gel remained effective for as long as six hours in the lab, adding that it will soon enter a phase I clinical trial on female patients and could be available commercially as soon as next year (Schorr, Reuters Health, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.