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By Elliot D. Cohen

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Ear to the Ground

New Condoms That Feel Like Human Skin Could Save Lives

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Posted on Jun 9, 2014

  Drs. Sina Naficy and Robert Gorkin with the hydrogel material that has won funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the next generation condom. Photo by University of Wollongong

Thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the gold rush happening in the field of condom research.

As previously reported on this site, prophylactics haven’t changed a whole lot since we started using latex, and, as most sexually active people know, they really suck.

The loss of sensation when compared to “bareback” or, shall we say, caveman sex is a big reason people opt for much riskier intercourse.

As reported on The Verge, researchers in Australia are looking into using the same “tough hydrogels” that many contact lenses are made out of.

There are some serious advantages of hydrogels, as listed by the University of Wollongong scientists working on the project. For one thing, they can mimic natural tissue. They’re also biodegradable, self-lubricating and can deliver topical drugs.

But while the johnnie of the future sounds wonderfully sci-fi, one wonders at what cost. Condoms must be more than safe, reliable and pleasurable, they have to be cheap or people won’t use them.

The goal of this project, after all, is to halt the spread of diseases such as AIDS, particularly in parts of the world where money is a real concern.


—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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