How A Dissolvable ‘Tampon’ Could One Day Help Women Stop HIV
When it comes to protecting themselves from HIV, women need more options.
About 84 percent of all women diagnosed with HIV contract the virus through heterosexual sex. And right now, the female condom is the only contraception available that stops HIV — and is controlled by the woman. These devices can be hard to find and tough to use.
Now engineers at the University of Washington in Seattle have come up with an experimental technologythat may one day make HIV protection for women as easy as using a tampon.
For years, scientists have been developing gels or creams that contain anti-HIV drugs known as microbicides. But these topical ointments can be problematic. They’re messy to apply. They can leak. And the medication absorbs slowly, so women have to use the gels or creams at least 20 minutes before sex.
A new delivery method could solve all these problems, say bioengineers Cameron Ball and Kim Woodrow. The secret? An electrically spun fabric.
Photo: Better than Egyptian cotton: This electrically spun fabric contains anti-HIV drugs and dissolves rapidly when it gets wet. (Courtesy of University of Washington)