Birth-Control Gel Also Might Kill HIV
July 6, 2005
According to doctors worldwide, the spermicide gel C31G could be a breakthrough in birth control and might fight diseases including HIV. The gel contains no hormones, which can cause side effects and require a prescription, is easy to use, and is packaged in an applicator similar to a tampon's.
A disease-fighting female contraceptive would have "a huge public health impact," said Heidi Milliken, manager of the Women's Health Research Unit (WHRU) at the Portland-based Oregon Health & Science University, which is helping test C31G's contraceptive power. The university is part of the Contraceptive Clinical Trials Network (CCTN), a group of 14 health centers financed by the National Institutes of Health.
Although condoms limit the spread of HIV/AIDS, women do not have control over their use. While female condoms might offer limited disease protection, no other contraceptive really fights diseases, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
For years, health experts thought the spermicide Nonoxynol-9 could limit STDs, but tests showed it irritated the body and made it more susceptible to diseases. C31G and Nonoxynol-9 work in similar ways, said WHRU Director Dr. Jeffrey Jensen. Early tests show C31G "highly potent" in fighting viruses and bacteria, but not as irritating as Nonoxynol-9, Jensen said. Scientists are researching C31G's disease-fighting ability in Africa with female volunteers at high risk for STDs.
Early tests suggest C31G is about 85 percent successful at preventing pregnancy, approximately the same rate as Nonoxynol-9 used alone. The CCTN testing sites are enrolling healthy women ages 18-40 in long-term sexual relationships with one partner. Two-thirds will get C31G and the rest will receive Nonoxynol-9.
Times-Picayune (New Orleans)
06.26.05; Andy Dworkin
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.