Fast-acting Fabric Provides Optimal, Preventive HIV Treatment

Researchers at the University of Washington have manufactured a HIV-combating fabric that can be taken before intercourse and dissolves within minutes.

Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle have manufactured a HIV-combating fabric that can be taken before intercourse and dissolves within minutes. The details of their findings were published in the August issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

While films and tablets are preferred due to their retention rate, they take more than 15 minutes to fully dissolve, which increases epithelial abrasions during sex, according to the authors.

For a HIV medication to be effective, large and quick administration is integral, said Cameron Ball, a UW bioengineering doctoral student and the paper’s lead author.

In their study, the researchers used electrospinning and combined a dissolved polymer with maraviroc, an anti-HIV drug currently used by HIV positive patients. The combination was also added to other pharmaceutical agents to increase disintegration speed. After being put in a high-voltage generator, the substance goes through a syringe. As a result, the mixture forms into a string, according to a statement from UW.

Since maraviroc is known to dissipate slowly, the investigators created a sample where 30% of the weight was made up of the drug.

When exposed to moisture, the fabric dissolved within 6 minutes, regardless of the fiber’s drug concentration. Based on the drug’s consistency, the investigators claimed the medication can be modeled similar to tampons or vaginal rings for insertion.

“This could offer women a potentially more effective, discreet way to protect themselves from HIV infection by inserting the drug-loaded materials into the vagina before sex,” Ball said.