Condoms are one of the most effective tools we have to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS, and now, thanks to the work of Texas A&M professor, the world might soon get a new condom that sexually active people actually want to use. The brand new condom proposal ditches latex for a hydrogel polymer, which doubles up on sexual safety by actively going after the contaminant virus. It is enmeshed with an antioxidant ingredient that has anti-HIV properties, and can even enhance the sexual experience.
The creator of this revolutionary new prophylactic, Mahua Choudhury, is an assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Hydrogels like the one in her new condom design have already been used in tactile sensors, contact lenses, and medical applications. And the condom’s hydrogel material only packs extra sexual safety features onto the existing efficacy of condoms. In addition to preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and reducing unplanned pregnancies, Choudhury’s condom features a unique disease-fighting component.
Condom breakage introduces a major hiccup to the otherwise overwhelming effectiveness of condoms. To prevent the spread of disease in the event of a break, The hydrogel in Choudhury’s condom is designed with an embedded plant-based antioxidant that is released when the condom’s walls are broken. This antioxidant has proven anti-HIV properties, and can stop the virus from replicating. The antioxidant laced in the hydrogel also boasts stimulant properties that enhance physiological stimulation and feelings of pleasure during sex.
“If we succeed, it will revolutionize the HIV prevention initiative. We are not only making a novel material for condoms to prevent the HIV infection, but we are also aiming to eradicate this infection if possible”, Choudhury said of the new condom. Choudhury was one of 54 winners selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation out of a pool of 1,700 applicants for their Grand Challenge in Global Health, which this year focused on a low-cost, latex-free condom.
As Choudhury and her team await approval on a patent application, they are working to fine tune the speed and effectiveness of the condom’s antioxidant release. Choudhury has announced that testing will be underway within six months. She hopes the condom will soon become available in rural areas where access to resources and information about sexual health are limited.