Australia's Olympic team kitted out with Zika-proof condoms
Important: All condoms when used correctly will protect against the sexual transmission of the Zika virus.
Australia's Olympic team is being equipped with Zika virus-proof condoms ahead of the games in Brazil. Starpharma Holdings Ltd is joining forces with Ansell Ltd to create the condoms that offer protection against STIs and pregnancy, as well as the Zika virus.
The "dual protection" condoms from Ansell will be lubricated with Starpharma's VivaGel. The gel has been found to provide near-total protection against the Zika and a number of other viruses.
Originally, the gel was developed to kill STIs like genital herpes, HIV and HPV, with the antiviral agent being used also discovered to offer protection from Zika.
While these results have only been produced in laboratory tests, it is hoped that adding VivaGel to condoms will protect the Australian Olympic team from the contraction of Zika.
Although the Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito bites, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection said in March that men who had been infected with the virus should not have unprotected sex for at least six months. This is because the virus remains active in the semen after treatment.
Jackie Fairley, chief executive of Starpharma, said: "Given sexual transmission of Zika virus is of increasing importance, the potent activity of Starpharma's VivaGel against Zika could prove very significant."
According to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), the new Zika-proof condoms will be added to the condoms that have already been sent to the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro. The village will have free dispensing machines, providing 100,000 female condoms and 350,000 male condoms for use by the athletes.
The Zika virus has been called a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 40 countries being affected. The biggest outbreak has been reported in Brazil, with a large number of children being born suffering from the effects of the virus due to their parents' infection at the time of pregnancy.
It is estimated that one million people in Brazil have been affected by the Zika virus.