Anti-HIV Vaginal Gel Reformulated for Rectal Use
Tenofovir gel, a topical vaginal gel used to prevent the spread of HIV during vaginal sex may now be safe for rectal use to prevent the spread of the disease during anal sex. Scientists at the Microbicide Trials Network tested the gel on 18 sexually abstinent men and women. The participants either directly applied the gel to their rectum or took a tenofovir pill orally for one week.
At the end of the week, the research team did a biopsy on each of the participants and exposed their tissue to HIV, and the tissues exposed to the gel on a daily basis weren’t affected by the HIV.
Even though this could be a great step towards HIV prevention during anal sex, reformulations of the tenofovir gel are needed to make it safer for the rectal lining since it is thinner and more sensitive than vaginal lining. Of the participants in the study, only 25% said they liked it, and two individuals suffered from gastrointestinal problems like abdominal cramps and diarrhea during the testing. However, 75% said they would consider the product in the future for its effects in preventing HIV.
Researchers are busy tweaking the formula of the gel so it will have less glycerin to make it easier on the rectal area and hopefully reduce some of the undesirable side effects.