Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 49-57

Nanotechnology and the future of condoms in the prevention of sexually transmitted infections

1 Implementation Science Unit, Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
2 School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
3 Centre for Rubber Science and Technology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
4 Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Clarence S Yah
Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, P/Bag 3, Wits 2050, Johannesburg
South Africa
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aam.aam_32_17

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Objective: The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is among the utmost destructive viruses humankind has ever faced in almost four decades. It carries with it profound socioeconomic and public health implications. Unfortunately, there is, currently, no effective cure for HIV infections. This review discusses the various types of condoms, microbicides, and the potential use of nanoparticle-coated condoms as a means of diminishing the risk of HIV transmission and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during sexual intercourse. Methods: We identified 153 articles from 1989 to 2015 indexed in various journal platforms, reports, and magazines. Using the PRISMA guidelines as proxy in performing the research review process, only 53 articles were selected. Ideally, articles that failed to describe the nature and types of condoms, condom failures, nanoparticle-coated condoms, microbicides, and HIV prevention were excluded. Results and Discussion: In general, it has been shown that antiretroviral therapy (ART) currently available can only limit transmission and acquisition of HIV strains. Apart from ART treatment, the use of condoms has been identified globally as a cost-effective intervention for reducing the spread of HIV and other STIs. However, while condoms are supposed to be effective, reliable, and easy to use, research has shown that they are attributable to 20% failures including breakages. Nevertheless, other studies have shown that coating condoms with nanoparticles is an important and effective method for reducing condom breakage and HIV/STI transmission during sexual intercourse. Conclusions: A review of literature cited in this paper has shown that nanotechnology-based condom systems have the potential to prevent the spread of HIV and STIs. Furthermore, the antimicrobial nature of some nanoparticles could provide a safe and efficient way to disrupt and/or inactivate different STIs – including viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases.

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