As Told by the Active Ingredient
In 2005, an estimated 4.1 million people worldwide were newly infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (UNAIDS 2006). — Rupp, Rosenthal and Stanberry, 2007
Who am I?
My name is SPL 7013. I am the active ingredient in those fancy new “HIV-killing condoms” you’ve been hearing about on Facebook and Twitter. The Washington Post claimed I could kill the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. That is not true, for several reasons which I will get into later.
The condoms that use me are produced by Starpharma, a major condom manufacturer in Australia. Starpharma claims that I (or the VivaGel for which I am the active ingredient at 3% weight/weight) have “been shown in laboratory studies to inactivate up to 99.9% of viruses, including HIV, the herpes virus (HSV), and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which are common viruses that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs).” In the form of VivaGel, I have also been used in clinical trials testing for antiviral effects and treatment of bacterial vaginosis.
I suppose you could call me a bit of a hero of late! But, I’m afraid, I’ve let all this media attention get to my head.