AIDS prevention—especially in parts of the world where access to HIV drugs is limited—is still a crucial issue, despite the fact that we’ve made so much progress when it comes to treatment. Even with this advancement, an ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure.
Even with advanced medical treatments, we’re still talking about condoms as a form of prevention. That makes the development out of Texas A&M this week noteworthy, as details have come out about researcher Mahua Choudhury’s “supercondom.”
As the Austin American-Statesman reports, Choudhury’s supercondom really does sound, er, super. It offers solutions to a number of the complaints people voice about the contraceptives, at any rate—the way they feel, the tendency to break, the way they can inhibit bloodflow—and suggests a whole new world beyond latex.
If the condom works as Choudhury and her research team suspect, it will keep HIV, and quite possibly other sexually transmitted diseases, from being transmitted — even if it breaks.
A bonus: The antioxidant that makes the condom work that way also enhances the sexual experience — a property Choudhury hopes will help to encourage the condom’s use and counteract the stigma this kind of contraception carries in much of the developing world. […]
To deal with what the Gates Foundation notes is “the male perspective (that) condoms decrease pleasure … creating a trade-off that many men find unacceptable,” the nonprofit wanted ideas for a condom “that is felt to enhance pleasure.” Choudhury’s design also is infused with an antioxidant known as quercetin, which stimulates blood flow, thus helping to maintain an erection.
All of that is a big deal, and it helps explain why the Gates Foundation invested in Choudhury’s research with a grant back in 2014. The condom, rather than being made out of latex, is made from hydrogel—the same material used in soft contact lenses—and combining the substance with quercetin, which can also prevent the transmission of HIV even if the condom breaks, is enough, Choudhury hopes, to get men who are resistant to using condoms to give it a shot.
The Statesman reminds us that there’s a long way to go before the supercondom is on the shelves (hopefully they keep the name “supercondom” for its commercial release, though), with more research needed in how to properly release the quercetin before clinical trials can begin. But as the fight against AIDS continues, innovation in prevention is an area whose time has more than come.