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Medical News

Female Hormone Estrogen Could Help Prevent HIV Transmission in Men, Study Finds

June 5, 2008

The female hormone estrogen when applied to the penis boosts a defensive protein that acts as a "living condom" and could reduce a man's risk of contracting HIV, according to a study published online Wednesday in PLoS One, the AAP/New Zealand Herald reports.

For the study, Andrew Pask of the University of Melbourne and colleagues applied the estrogen cream Oestriol to the inner foreskin of the penis. estrogen is currently used to treat prolapse in women, the AAP/Herald reports. The researchers found that applying estrogen increased the defensive protein keratin in the skin by four-fold, which acted as a barrier against HIV (Best, AAP/New Zealand Herald, 6/4). Roger Short -- a professor at the University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences and co-author of the study -- said that keratin creates a "natural condom" or a "biological membrane which [HIV] can't get through" (AFP/Google.com, 6/4).

Pask said that by "using keratin, we can increase the body's natural defense ... and then the virus can't physically inject itself through that barrier to infect cells underneath." He added, "It's not a contraception ... but it is a living condom and a perfect protection against HIV." The treatment has worked in laboratory tests and will undergo clinical trials in Africa, the AAP/Herald reports (AAP/New Zealand Herald, 6/4).

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"We have found a new avenue to possibly prevent HIV infection of the penis," Short said, adding, "In countries where circumcision is not religiously or culturally accepted, estrogen treatments to the penis could be very effective in reducing the spread of the disease" (Xinhua/People's Daily, 6/4). Although the treatment did not protect against other sexually transmitted infections, Pask said it could be a simple, inexpensive and effective guard against HIV that could be applied once weekly or eventually have applications in condoms and lubricants. Pask added that the treatment could significantly reduce HIV/AIDS caseloads over time. "Mathematical models would predict that within say 50 or 60 years, that the level of HIV in the world would be significantly reduced," he said (AAP/New Zealand Herald, 6/4).

Online The study is available online.

Back to other news for June 2008


Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2008 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



  
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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