Correctly used, condoms do a damn good job of preventing STDs (and pregnancy!). But nobody’s gonna say no to an improvement that ups those odds. Say, a condom coated in antiviral gel that kills up to 99.9 per cent of HIV, genital herpes and human papillomavirus. Australia just said yes, and it will be available to purchase within mere months.
The key component here is VivaGel, an antiviral gel powered by nanotechnology. The gel’s active ingredient is millions and millions of nano-sized molecules. These perfectly symmetrical 3D branching structures glom onto viruses like HIV, HPV or the virus that causes genital herpes, preventing them from binding to human cells. No binding, no infection.
VivaGel molecule, drawn in blue and red, bound to an HIV virus’s surface receptors, shown in yellow. Picture by Starpharma.
Starpharma, the Australian pharmaceutical company that developed VivaGel, just received approval by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, paving the way for ViviGel-equipped condoms to hit the Australian market in the coming months.
Hopefully, this move will open up other markets to approve ViviGel-equipped barrier devices. Last week, Starpharma announced that both the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency approved phase 3 clinical trials of ViviGel. Those trials, however, will examine ViviGel as a treatment for bacterial vaginosis, rather than a condom ingredient, since a double-blind placebo trial involving the potential transmission of HIV would be the definition of unethical.
Picture: Shutterstock / Michel Cecconi