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New condom that kills HIV — too good to be true?

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

New anti-viral condom could prevent spread of herpes, HIV and HPV

Attention all you sex-having ladies: Safe sex just got a little bit safer thanks to new condoms coated in an anti-viral gel.

In the past condoms have been not only the best but the only way to decrease your risk of getting a sexually transmitted illness, but they've never been 100 percent effective. Estimates vary but the FDA found that depending on use and the type of disease, condoms are only 18 to 92 percent effective.

These new killer condoms developed by StarPharma and coated in Vivagel wiped out an amazing 99.9 percent of viruses in lab tests, including HIV, HPV and herpes.

Just like Vegemite, whale sharks and the other myriad of cool things that Australia has that the U.S. doesn't, the condoms will only be available in Australia for now. But the FDA is overseeing trials that could make them available in the U.S. eventually. StarPharma says there are no plans as of now to develop it into a stand-alone gel that could be used as a lubricant.

But it's not all sunshine and fear-free orgasms. Philip Werthman, M.D., a urologist and director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine in Los Angeles, cautions that more research needs to be done, noting that the Australian studies only looked at 1,000 women total. In addition, in animal trials the gel only prevented transmission of viruses 85 to 99 percent of the time.

"That's great but is 85 percent good enough for something like HIV?" he says. "I wouldn't exactly tell someone to buy these condoms and do whatever you want."

Which leads to Werthman's main concern that people will hear the hype and believe it gives them 100 protection and forget about the other parts of safe sex. "Other than abstinence, nothing takes away all the risk," he says, pointing out that even if the gel works perfectly, condoms can break and viruses can live on places the condom doesn't cover like the base of the penis or the outer labia of the vagina. "Technology won't mitigate risky behavior and risky sexual behavior is still the strongest determinant of whether someone will get an STI."

Still, anything that makes condoms more effective sounds good. No word on if the gel will come in flavors. Vegemite, perhaps?

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