To protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases microbicides are being used either alone or combined with the added protection of a condom. In a recent research work it was found that the use of lubricants which was initially designed for vaginal application, has been developed with rectal specific formulations and could help protect from HIV.
Unprotected sex is one of the major ways that HIV spreads through the population. However most research has focused on the production of vaginal microbicides which, due to differences in pH, native bacterial populations (microflora), and thickness of the epithelium, may not be safe as rectal microbicides. Researchers at the Magee Woman's Research Institute, University of Pittsburgh, have shown that some mineral oil and silicone-based lubricants, but not the water-based ones they tested, significantly weakened the integrity of condoms making them more likely to break. The research work published by published by BioMed Central's open access journal AIDS Research and Therapy.
With this in mind Prof. Rohan's group has formulated four different lubricants, both water and lipid based, and in different formats, as a fluid or gel, which are currently being tested in clinical trials. Prof. Rohan said, "This is the first stage in the production of targeted microbicidal products. If successful these lubricants will provide a basis for the inclusion of different types of antibiotics, antivirals, and other drugs. Once completed these products will help reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted disease and bring hope in the fight to stop the spread of HIV.