US researchers have developed a new vaginal gel that might help to protect women from HIV even if applied three hours after sex, a report said.
The report stated that vaginal gels containing anti-retroviral drugs were important for HIV prevention but were designed to be applied by women before sex, which could interfere with sex practice and limit their potency.
The researchers wrote in Science Journal that they believed a gel that could be applied after sex would be more practical because it would give women more control and would require less preparation before sex and less partner acceptance.
The gel, developed by researchers of the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, contains the anti-HIV drug, raltegravir.
Using a macaque model to assess efficacy, the researchers found applying the gel 30 minutes before exposure, protected two of three macaques from SHIV, a combination of HIV and a related virus.
More importantly, the researchers said, the gel was equally effective when applied after exposure.
The researchers added that five of six macaques treated with the gel three hours after exposure remained uninfected.
They, however, noted that the observations required confirmation in larger number of animals.
“This study supports evaluation of this class of drug for HIV prevention and further evaluation of post-coital modalities in women for enhanced acceptability and compliance,” the report added.