A new study published on Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that scientists have created a HIV protection gel which could solve the dangers that walk hand in hand with unprotected sex. Although the research was carried out on monkeys, experts do not exclude the possibility of starting testing the product on women. If the gel becomes successful, it could be a handy method of fighting against this deadly disease. The gel has been created in order to suit the needs both before and after the sexual intercourse.
Walid Heneine from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with his team of researchers could have found a way to solve the dangers which appear during unprotected sex, but, for now, the HIV protection gel has not been tested on human beings. The product contains raltegravir, an antiretroviral drug mainly used to treat the infection with this virus and it has been created to work not only when applied 30 minutes before the sexual intercourse, but also three hours after.
Since the HIV infection involves the assimilation of the virus DNA into its host’s DNA and Heneine found out that the process occurs approximately six hours after the exposure to the disease, the gel has been designed in order to stop HIV from transmitting its DNA into the host’s cells.
The Results of the Study
Before experimenting on human beings, Heneine and his team of experts tested the product on monkeys, which were divided into two groups; out of the 23 macaques, 13 were used for the first stage of the research. 30 minutes before the exposure to the disease, three monkeys used the newly created product and ten received a placebo gel. The result clearly showed that only one of first three contracted the disease, while nine out of ten that used the placebo gel were infected.
In the second experiment, four monkeys received the placebo gel and six were given the product approximately three hours after the virus exposure. Of the total, four from the first group and only one from the second contracted the disease, which allowed scientists to conclude that the HIV protection gel could solve unprotected sex dangers.
Making It Human-friendly
Although Heneine proved that the gel worked on the group of monkeys, no tests have been carried out on human beings, which means that the product will not be available for purchase anytime soon. Moreover, researchers are years away from testing the gel on human beings, because its effectiveness must be improved in order to address the unprotected sex dangers when one of the partners is infected with HIV.
The reason why the product has been designed to work not only before the sexual intercourse, but also three hours after is explained by Rowena Johnston, vice president of research for the Foundation for AIDS Research. Johnston stated that, realistically speaking, sexual intercourse is not programmed, so designing a product which can prevent HIV from infecting the healthy woman hours after could solve the dangers which walk hand in hand with unprotected sex. Although the gel is not yet 100% effective, researchers are working on improving the formula in order to create a HIV protection gel that could solve the dangers of unprotected sex.
By Gabriela Motroc