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A condom that fights sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) will soon be distributed in the U.S., according to Starpharma, a pharmaceutical company located in Australia that manufactures the product. The condom contains VivaGel, a lubricant that makes a contraceptive that is extremely potent against most viral sexually transmitted diseases.
The condom is the only one of its kind that contains astodrimer sodium, an antiviral compound, in its lubricant. Lab results documented that VivaGel can immobilize 99.9 percent of herpes, HIV and HPV viruses, as stated in a recent press release by the company.
Starpharma’s marketing partner, Ansell (also based in Australia), plans to develop the product that merges the lubricant with the antiviral material. The Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), comparable to the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., just approved the VivaGel condom that will hit the market as soon as it is listed in the ARTG’s registry.
Ansell is known as the second-largest condom producer in the world. The company plans to launch the VivaGel® condom under their brand, LifeStyles Dual Protect™ in the coming months, following listing on the ARTG.
As soon as the condom is registered it will be sold under the LifeStyles Dual Protect brand in Australia. Starpharma plans to then market the product in Japan, Europe and North America. The STDs-fighting condom will soon be distributed in the U.S., hopefully reducing the spread of many sexually transmitted infections with its use.
However, a few doctors have been asking whether there will be side effects to the new condom. Pediatrics Professor and HPV Specialist Dr. Anna-Barbara Moscicki performed a study in 2011, and has studied women patients using VivaGel as an internal vaginal cream to protect themselves against STDs without using a condom. She discovered that it caused low-grade inflammation and mild irritation after two weeks of the participants using the product twice daily.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an irritant. After a portion of the body is irritated, the body’s defense system sends white blood cells such as lymphocytes and neutrophils to protect the site of the injury in order to heal it. Moscicki explained that those cells are also what the HIV virus uses to duplicate itself and spread throughout the entire body. In addition, she added, the skin barrier is broken down by inflammation, which makes it easier for HPV to infect another person.
Moscicki stated that she hopes that Starpharma has amended the concerns that caused inflammation in her study participants. Moscicki mentioned to the Huffington Post that the drug looks promising, but she hopes that the condom does not cause irritation or inflammation for either the woman or the man.
In response to Moscicki’s concerns, Starpharma CEO Jackie Fairley stated that the concentration levels in the VivaGel lubricant were different from gels that have been studied previously. For example, Moscicki’s study involved 3 percent VivaGel, whereas Starpharma used only 1 percent concentration of the gel with over 1,000 participants in clinical studies.
After completing the research Starpharma revealed that there was no difference in safety between the placebo and the 1 percent VivaGel concentration. The concentration in the condom has even been dropped down to .5 percent, which is even lower than the tested level.
Moscicki admitted that since the concentration level of VivaGel on the condom is so minute it might not have the same damaging side effects as using the product alone as a vaginal cream. If the condom is a success, the new viral-fighting contraceptive may just be a stimulating upgrade from the classic latex condom currently sold in stores.
In a few weeks, the VivaGel STDs-fighting condom will be available for purchase in Australia, and will soon also be distributed in the U.S. and other countries as well. Hopefully, the new condom’s success will live up to the hype.
By Amy Nelson