Short item Published on September 25, 2009

Gel could block HIV like a condom

In the August 10, 2009 issue of the Advanced Functional Materials journal, a paper was published describing the HIV-blocking properties of a gel that could prevent the transmission of HIV by physically stopping the virus in its tracks (1). Unlike existing microbicides (which were reported on in an earlier issue of the SACEMA Quarterly) (2), this “molecular condom” appears not to be affected by high temperatures, making it potentially suitable for use in hot developing countries. However, the gel’s ability to trap HIV has only been shown in the laboratory and clinical trials are at least three years away. If it works it will enable women to protect themselves against HIV without approval from their partners.