Bill Gates Funds Female Condom That Delivers Anti-HIV Drug
Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a new form of contraception for women that they believe will be safer, cheaper and "more discrete" than using condoms or taking pills.
The new contraceptive will consist of an "electrically spun cloth with nanometer-sized fibers can dissolve to release drugs," which would provide protection against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $1 million for the project last month.
"Our dream is to create a product women can use to protect themselves from HIV infection and unintended pregnancy," Kim Woodrow, a UW assistant professor of bioengineering and one of the researchers, said in a statement. "We have the drugs to do that. It’s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it."
The electrospun cloth could be inserted directly in the body or be used as a coating on vaginal rings or other products.
"At the time of sex, are people going to actually use it? That’s where having multiple options really comes into play," Emily Krogstad, co-author of the project, said. "Depending on cultural background and personal preferences, certain populations may differ in terms of what form of technology makes the most sense for them."