New Australian Condom Can Kill STDs, Including HIV and Herpes

By Olivia Demarinis | Jul 23, 2014 09:36 PM EDT

A new type of condom additive was approved for mass production in Australia, one that can kill sexually transmitted diseases. Currently, condoms protect against spreading viruses between sexual partners, but the new VivaGel actually destroys these harmful diseases.

Bio-tech firm Starpharma, who developed the VivaGel condom, was approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and is expected to be selling the product within the next several months.

The condom works because of a compound in the lubricant of the condom, an antiviral that deactivates viruses like herpes, human papilloma virus and even HIV. The lubrication contains 0.5 percent astodrimer sodium, an antimicrobial, non-antibiotic drug that was created as a means to counteract HIV transmission. Testing has shown that with the small dose, the condom was 99.9 percent effective at deactivating these STDs.

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Starpharma is said to be partnering with another firm, Ansell, which controls 70 percent of Australia's condom market. The goal is to better prevent the spread of STDs beyond current capabilities.

"Condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing either pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections," Dr. Jackie Farley, chief executive at Starpharma, said. "So anything that you can do to reduce the number of virus particles by inactivating them with a substance like VivaGel would reduce overall viral load."

In Australia, STDs continue to be a problem. Genital herpes is prevalent, with one in eight Australians 25 and older estimated to currently have the disease. HIV infection rates rose 10 percent in 2012, and 2013 rates have remained at an alarming 20-year high.

President of Ansell and general manager of the sexual wellness global business unit Peter Carroll said consumers should expect to see the condoms in stores "over the coming months."

The Food and Drug Administration are assessing the condoms for possible release in U.S. markets.

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