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Safer sex: Condoms that protect against and also kill STDs

Condoms soon to be coated with VivaGel, a substance that kills 99.9% of all STDs
Condoms soon to be coated with VivaGel, a substance that kills 99.9% of all STDs
Photo by China Photos/Getty Images

The condom could very well become an even more valuable tool in the practice of safe and even safer sex. A report released July 23 stated that an Australian biotech firm (Starpharma) created and received the go ahead from regulators to produce a condom that not only creates a preventative barrier between partners but also has been proven to kill 99.9% of viruses transmitted sexually, including HIV, HPV and Herpes.

Starpharma has created a gel called VivaGel which will coat the condoms it produces. The gel-coated condoms will be manufactured by an Australian company called Ansell. Starpharma and Ansell have received the proper certifications through the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (similar to the FDA). Manufacture of the condoms could occur in less than a year.

Excitement could take hold, with the knowledge of these special condoms pending possible sale and distribution in only a matter of months. The news is indeed groundbreaking; nothing like this has been created to date. However, some medical experts warn that we shouldn’t get too excited about the news just yet.

A pediatrics professor and HPV expert at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Anna-Barbara Moscicki reported the results of a study she did on VivaGel with women who wanted to prevent themselves from contracting STDs without having to use a condom. She found that when the VivaGel was used as an intravaginal cream for two straight weeks, two times a day, “irritation and low-grade inflammation” occurred in study participants. This inflammation calls on the body’s defenses and battalions of white blood cells travel to the point of inflammation. In the case of HIV, the white blood cells are the cells on which the virus multiplies and spreads. Pretty scary. Further, since inflammation also breaks down the skin layer, it can allow easier access to the basal skin cell layer for HPV to settle. The expert also conducted another study that reigned in similar results.

According to the Huffington Post, the CEO of Starpharma said that though these results may have been true in the 2011 studies, the concentration of VivaGel has been modified for the condoms to be produced for market. Further, consistent use of condoms significantly reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, even HIV.