This new molecular condom is a liquid which congeals once it comes into contact with higher temperatures found in the vagina to form a thin layer of solid gel. A pH change, caused by contact with semen, turns it back into a microbicide liquid that delivers a lethal dose of antiretroviral chemicals.

"We are using the potential disease-carrying agent -- in other words, the semen -- to trigger the release of the drug with the hopes that this would make the microbicide much more active," said lead researcher Patrick Kiser, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the university of Utah where this condom is being developed. "We're targeting the virus before it can interact with the woman's tissues."

Women using the gel would apply it to the vaginal area before sex where it would solidify, to melt in the presence of semen and deliver the anti-HIV chemicals.

"We haven't designed this as a contraceptive; however, it would be possible to put a contraceptive into the gel," Kisser said. "It is really a medium for a drug."

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