A condom coated with a special gel that has been able to deactivate as much as 99.9 percent of viruses in laboratory testing, including but not limited to HIV, the herpes virus and the human papillomavirus (HPV), will soon be available in Australia under the brand name LifeStyles Dual Protect.
Australian pharmaceutical company Starpharma developed Vivagel, which, in addition to being a promising vaginal microbicide even when used alone, is entering phase 3 of FDA clinical trials for use in treating bacterial vaginosis.
Condom designers have been thinking outside the box recently, and LifeStyles Dual Protect joins the ranks of original designs like the Galactic Cap, which adheres to the tip of the penis, leaving the shaft exposed for increased sensation.
Meanwhile, a team of researchers at the University of Wollongong, Australia, have a project underway to replace latex and create a condom that will be invisible and self-lubricating out of a water-based material called hydrogel.
LifeStyles Dual Protect, however, is so far the only prophylactic armed with such STD-fighting agents and approval by the Australian health authorities represents a major step in STD prevention.
Spermicidal condoms have been available for decades, although the spread of STDs indicates a need for fundamental changes in condom design to encourage their use.
To market LifeStyles Dual Protect condoms, Starpharma has partnered with Australia-based condom manufacturer Ansell.
The good news follows approval from health authorities in Japan, where market leader Opkamoto Industries received a license to market the product.