A new condom designed to kill the HIV virus could be available to buy within months, after key regulatory approval.
Tests have shown the VivaGel condom is effective in deactivating 99.9 per cent of HIV, herpes and human papilloma virus cases.
Australian bio-tech firm Starpharma has developed the antiviral Viva Gel, the active ingredient designed to tackle sexually transmitted infections, in the condom’s lubricant.
The product has now received a receipt of Conformity of Assessment Certification by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration – a similar certificate to the CE mark in Europe – paving the way for mass production.
It means the condom, the first of its kind, should be available to buy in the coming months.
The condoms are lubricated with VivaGel, which contains 0.5 per cent astodrimer sodium – a non-antibiotic, antimicrobial drug designed specifically as a compound against HIV.
It is hoped the gel will help reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs, while also reducing the risk of pregnancy.
It is being produced by Australian bio-tech firm Starpharma in partnership with another firm called Ansell, which is responsible for around 70 per cent of Australia’s condom market.
The recent TGA approval came after the condom was assessed in line with a set of requirements relating to safety and performance.
In Australia the prevalence of STIs continues to rise.
Genital herpes, caused by the herpes simplex virus, is estimated to affect one in eight Australians aged 25 years and over, although many are unaware they are carrying the infection and pass it on without knowing.
The rate of newly diagnosed HIV infections rose 10 per cent in the 12 months to the end of 2012 – the largest increase in Australia in the last 20 years.
And figures reveal the number of infections diagnosed in 2013 remains at a 20-year high, representing a 70 per cent increase on the number detected in 1999, when cases were at their lowest level.
Ansell president and general manager of the sexual wellness global business unit, Peter Carroll, said consumers could expect to see the ‘ground-breaking new sexual health’ product on the shelves soon.
‘Ansell looks forward to rolling out its marketing and sales campaign to support the launch of LifeStyles Dual Protect over the coming months with the first product expected to be available on shelves soon,’ he said.