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Anti-Zika Virus Condoms: Facts About The World's First Antiviral Condoms

May 19, 2016 05:31 AM EDT

The Zika epidemic has taken Brazil by storm last year, prompting WHO to declare the virus as a global health emergency.

Since then, local health authorities have been very vigilant in observing the case and conducting research to fight the epidemic which currently has no cure.

Zika is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. As per Reuters report, Brazil has registered 91,387 likely cases of the Zika virus from February until April 2.

The cases were recorded even in Rio Janeiro where the Olympic Games are set to begin.

In line with this, the Australian Olympic Committee announced few days ago that special anti-viral condoms will be given to athletes in order to curb the spread of the Zika virus.

Here's what we know so far about the anti-viral cndoms:

  1. It is called VivaGel
  2. The dual protect condoms were produced by Australian pharmaceutical company Starpharma Holdings and Ansell Ltd.
  3. It provides protection via the physical barrier and a lubricant that contains an antiviral agent that counteracts viruses that cause infections.
  4. It contains the active ingredient SPL7013, which is supposed to attach itself to viruses so that the viruses in turn cannot attach to human cells.
  5. VivaGel also claimed to be effective in neutralizing more common sexually transmitted viruses like HIV and herpes.
  6. Starpharma claimed the lubricant showed near-complete antiviral protection against Zika in laboratory studies.
  7. VivaGel is only sold in Australia at present. 
  8. Starpharma will also provide free condom dispensing machines during the Olympics - 350,000 male condoms and 100,000 female condoms to athletes.
  9. Despite its claim, Starpharma's VivaGel has not applied for or been given regulatory certification for use against Zika.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Benjamin N. Haynes said in an email to Slate that the condom does not prove anything.

"There is no evidence that addition of an anti-infective alters the effectiveness of condoms, whether it improves them or makes them less effective," he told Slate.

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