Traditionally, women’s options for lowering their risk of contracting HIV have been relatively limited: Use condoms or don’t have sex. Don’t inject drugs. And get tested.
But if a team of bioengineers with the University of Washington succeeds at ushering its new research through clinical trials, women may soon be able to turn to dissolvable “tampons” that deliver HIV-preventing medication minutes before having sex.
In a preliminary study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, the researchers combined silky, electrically spun fibers with maraviroc — a drug currently approved to help treat HIV infections that may also prevent healthy people from acquiring the virus. Within minutes of coming into contact with moisture, the fibers in the tamppon-like device dissolve, releasing a high dose of the medication.