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HIV-fighting tampons in development

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As technology becomes more creative and inventive, ways of delivering that tech become stranger and more genius. Reported in Salon.com by Jenny Kutner, a new form of PrEP is in the works; a tampon that could prevent HIV/AIDS.

The University of Washington has come up with a fast-dissolving tampon that can deliver the HIV killing microbicides right where they need to be; inside the vagina. The ‘tampon’ would turn into a gel in minutes, and that gel would get ‘swished’ around inside during sex where any HIV contaminants would die a quick death.

It’s hoped that with such a product, protection from other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and also contraception against unwanted pregnancy could be added to this delivery device, but for now, the ability to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially in third-world countries, seems to be the chief aim.

According to Healthline contributor, David Heitz, “doctoral student Cameron Ball has teamed up with assistant bioengineering professor Kim Woodrow to create a better way to deliver the microbicide's virus-killing punch. Tampon fibers made using a new process called electrospinning can retain a massive dose of microbicides, yet dissolve inside the vagina in as little as six minutes.”

The report explains there is a once-daily pill available that kills HIV called Truvada, but assimilation into the market and usage just hasn’t taken. There are many reasons why this may be the case, but for third-world countries, reach and affordability may be the biggest hindrances as getting the product out to villagers unused to pharmacies, and even having the funds to pay them is impossible. However, humanitarian aid could easily provide tampons to women.

The product must still undergo clinical trials and availability is at least three years out yet, but hopes are high. In addition to having this product for vaginal insertion, they are also considering future use for anal insertion as well.

The best part about all of this besides the obvious point of preventing the spread of HIV is that it’s discreet and easy to utilize. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on this very promising product.

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