Spermicide Fails to
Protect Against HIV Study Shows
BOSTON (AP) -- A study challenges the popular belief that spermicides protect against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The research, conducted on prostitutes in Cameroon, found no sign that combining the common spermicide nonoxynol 9 with condoms worked any better than condoms alone.
The findings were first reported in Washington last year. They are now being published in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was conducted on 1,292 HIV-negative prostitutes and directed by Dr. Ronald E. Roddy of Family Health International of Durham, N.C.
The women were given condoms and were randomly assigned to get either a spermicide film or an inactive placebo film. They were told to insert the film into their vaginas before intercourse and to require their sex partners to use the condoms.
The study was conducted between March 1994 and December 1996. Just under 7 percent of women in both groups became infected with the AIDS virus during the course of the study. The spermicide also did not reduce the risk of gonorrhea or chlamydia infection.
The research contradicts earlier work suggesting that nonoxynol 9 is moderately effective against gonorrhea and some other sexually transmitted infections.
Tests in animals and test tubes have also shown signs that spermicides can inactivate the AIDS virus, but studies in people have produced conflicting results. A study of the contraceptive sponge, conducted on prostitutes in Kenya, was stopped early because users actually had a higher rate of AIDS infection.
Family Health International is a nonprofit research group that focuses on improving reproductive health, primarily through contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.