In what sounds like a potential breakthrough in HIV infection among women, a new gel that is currently in the early stages of testing on monkeys, could possibly protect women. Scientists have shown that monkeys can be protected against infection with a vaginal gel even when it’s used 3 hours after sex.
According to the New York Times, the gel is made with the antiretroviral drug raltegravir. Raltegravir is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of H.I.V. Three hours before it was inserted, the monkeys were given vaginal washes of simian H.I.V. to simulate sex with an infected monkey. In a separate part of the trial, only one of three monkeys given a similar gel 30 minutes before exposure to the virus became infected.
Scientists were quick to point out that just because the drug was successful during the monkey trials, that it doesn’t mean that the same success will happen if it moves to human trials. But they’re hopeful if the drug is a success that it “could be used for H.I.V. prevention like Plan B or the morning-after pill for contraception”.
The scientists also not that that, “such a gel would be particularly useful in countries where women have little protection against domestic violence or rape, because they could apply it surreptitiously after a partner fell asleep or a clinic could administer it after a rape.”