Some Sexual Lubricants May Inactivate HIV, Study Says
Some "safe, inexpensive [and] widely available" sexual lubricants containing two compounds reduced HIV replication by 99.9% in HIV-infected sperm, according to a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston study published in the November 2001 issue of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, Salon.com reports. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the University of Texas, tested the effect after 24 hours of 22 over-the-counter sexual lubricants mixed with HIV-infected sperm. Researchers used standard virus-counting techniques and identified that three of the 22 lubricants -- Astroglide, also sold as Silken Secret, Vagisil and ViAmor -- reduced the virus content in the semen samples by 99.9%. Although Dr. Samuel Baron, microbiology professor and lead researcher for the study, said he was "not at liberty" to name the HIV-killing compounds found in the lubricants until a scientific paper detailing them is released, he did call them "common, widely used and inexpensive," adding that the compounds "could easily be used by women in Africa and other parts of the world where AIDS is a major problem and where condoms are not popular." Condoms, however, should still be used to prevent HIV transmission, Baron said, adding that there is "no downside" and a "potentially major upside" to using one of the lubricants in addition to a condom. Baron and his colleagues are encouraging the U.S. government, the United Nations and the lubricant manufacturers to finance field tests to know "for certain" that the lubricants would inactivate HIV during sexual intercourse (Castleman, Salon.com, 1/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.