(The Washington Post) – More than 80 percent of women diagnosed with HIV contract the virus through heterosexual sex. A condom provides the best protection against HIV — but men aren’t always willing to wear them.
The female condom has been on the market since 1993. Unfortunately, it’s less familiar and more expensive than the male condom — and can make a rustling noise, prompting unfortunate comparisons to a wastepaper basket.
But researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have come up with a new way for women to protect themselves against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The method is not unlike a technology familiar to many women: the tampon.
Here’s how it works: An anti-HIV microbicide — a substance that can kill microbes as well as prevent HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections — is woven into fabric that can be inserted like a tampon before intercourse. Once inserted, the material dissolves, and the microbicide is absorbed into the vagina within six minutes.