Australian Reproductive Physiologist Says Lemon Juice Kills HIV, Sperm
Reproductive physiologist Roger Short of the University of Melbourne in Australia this week told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that "a few drops" of lemon or lime juice could protect women from HIV infection and unplanned pregnancies, Reuters reports (Reuters, 10/9). Short said that women 300 years ago used lemon or lime juice as contraception, but the practice had "fallen by the wayside over the years" (Reuters, 10/9). He said he thought HIV, in addition to sperm, might also be affected by lemon juice because the virus is "extremely susceptible" to acidity (Daily Telegraph, 10/10). According to Short, laboratory tests, which did not include tests on humans or animals, indicated that the citrus juice killed HIV and sperm. Short said the juice could provide an alternative for women in developing nations for whom contraceptives are unavailable or too costly. Short said he plans to conduct "field tests" of the theory in Thailand.
Andrew Grulich, president of the Australian Society for HIV Medicine, said that "it's possible" that Short is "onto something," but added that Short's theory "clearly needs to be followed up in clinical trials in humans" (Agence France-Presse, 10/10). Grulich noted that lemon juice could actually increase a woman's risk of HIV transmission because the acidity could cause vaginal lesions. "[W]e really need to investigate new hypotheses such as these ones carefully to ensure we don't do more harm than good," he said (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/10). Edith Weisberg, director of research at the sexual health service of FPA Health Australia, said she was not convinced Short's idea is "quite as simple as he says" (Agence France-Presse, 10/10).