The Perfect Condom: Pharmacists Claim It Will Be A Pleasure To Use, Fight HIV On Contact

Tuesday marked World’s AIDS Day and stirred discussion on barriers to condom use for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Though more than five billion condoms are sold each year, there are still far too many people refusing to use condoms, researchers say. Now, a new condom has been designed, and its unique qualities might be just special enough to get men who are usually turned off by condoms to consider using them.

Dr. Mahua Choudhury, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, came up with a revolutionary new condom design. For starters, the condom isn’t made of latex. Chowdhury believes many people are irritated by latex and knows that some are even allergic to latex. Her design is a strong, elastic polymer that is made mostly of water. It’s called hydrogel, and is used in contact lenses already, eliminating some of the safety testing hurdles.

The new condom design is infused with plant-based antioxidants. The antioxidants, remarkably, have anti-HIV properties, so that if the condom should break, the antioxidants should be able to prevent the HIV from replicating.

Neither of these characteristics are the strongest selling point for people who hate using condoms, though. The antioxidants used are flavonoids, and they can actually heighten the sexual experience. The flavonoid antioxidants, which are also found in many fruits and vegetables, enhance the sexual experience by both raising arterial blood flow and relaxing smooth muscles. Here’s the knock-out selling point of the new condom design: The flavonoids help maintain elevated nitric oxide levels, which in turn helps stimulate and maintain an erection, the opposite effect many men complain about with traditional condom usage.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for Dr. Choudhury and her team toward the development of a product that will have an impact on the health of populations around the world,” Dr. Allison Rice-Ficht said.

Chowdhury explained why the new design was important.

“If you can make it really affordable, and really appealing, it could be a life-saving thing.”

The condom will be developed with funds from the Grand Challenge in Global Health award using donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the particular grand challenge was to develop an extremely low-cost, latex-free condom, according to Medical News Today. There were about 1,700 designs considered. Chowdhury’s was one of only 54 designs that were chosen for funding. The product testing is expected to take another half-year.

The Inquisitr reported on another fascinating condom design that was the brainchild of teenagers. S. T. Eye is a color-changing condom that has been lined with antibodies to STIs and STDs. The antibodies won’t actually treat infections, but they will quickly alert the condom user of a potential risk of infection. The antibodies interact and change colors depending on what type of disease or infection the condom is exposed to!

Another new condom design that was previously funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is made of silicone, promises pleasure, and was earlier reported to be ready for release at the end of this year is The ORIGAMI Male Condom (OMC).

Then, there’s The Galactic Cap, which was fully funded on Indiegogo and is secured only on the head of the penis. This new condom design leaves the coronal ridge and shaft exposed “for a more powerful orgasm,” but would seemingly do little to protect against many sexually transmitted diseases. The creators, though, claim that in the absence of sores, it does provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. Further investigation though reveals that the prevention this cap offers is more on a general scale, since “more men would use some protection instead of none.” The developers added, “What good does it do to have the perfect condom if no one uses it?”

What do you think of all the new condom designs?

[Image via Texas A&M Health Center]