Women may soon have one more weapon at their disposal in the fight against HIV that could (ideally) be available over the counter!
Researchers at the University of Washington are hoping to develop a dissolvable tampon containing maraviroc, an HIV-preventing drug. The tampon would deliver high doses of the medication minutes after coming in contact with moisture.
“We envision a product that could dissolve–pretty much instantaneously–into a gel and then spread around the vagina during sex,” said Cameron Ball, a bioengineering doctoral student at the university told The Huffington Post.
This would be a last-minute prophylactic will act quickly in order to prevent people having unsafe sex due to impatience. “We want something that dissolves quickly,” Cameron explained, “so that people can say, ‘Hey, I wasn’t planning on it, but I’m going to have sex in five minutes so I need to use this product, and I want it to be completely dissolved before that.’”
According to HuffPo, Cameron’s team is still in the research phase for the tampons, which would be made of electrically spun fibers infused maraviroc. The medication is currently used to treat people who already have HIV, but it could also keep healthy people from contracting the virus.
Researchers believe that putting the medication into a neater package would make women more likely to use it. “Follow-up trials have shown that the real barrier for women in using them is that they don’t adhere to the products,” Cameron explained, “there’s leakage that makes it messy for them to use, so we’re interested in creating a different form of the drug,”
The HIV-preventing tampon is still years away from hitting the market, but bioengineering students envision that picking some up would be as easy as getting a box of condoms.
“It would probably take five years to get into a clinical study phase, with humans,” said Cameron, “then depending on how that goes, it would probably take up to another five years before these types of things might be seen on the shelf of a local Walgreens or CVS.”