"Tampons" That Prevent HIV Could Be On The Way

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Tampons_3_RockieNolan copyPhotographed By Rockie Nolan.
Today in innovative spins on common items, researchers at the University of Washington have developed a tampon designed to administer a dose of anti-HIV drugs before you have sex. The topical drugs, called microbiocides, are delivered via silk-line fibers and dissolve in just a matter of minutes. This is not the first HIV-prevention product on the market. But, it's one of the few that allow women to be discreet about protecting themselves. After just six minutes, the drug is dissolved and delivered — with minimal cleanup, or what the researchers call "leakage."

This "tampon," despite performing none of the functions of an actual tampon, is one of a few clever attempts at delivering anti-HIV drugs as efficiently as possible. Other researchers are looking into designing a delivery system that's shaped like a vaginal ring. Tests for the tampon — which does, in fact, use a cardboard applicator — are ongoing. And, this rapid-dissolving technology may be harnessed for other purposes, too: Researchers hope to determine whether a contraception "tampon" could make sex as safe (and futuristic) as possible.