Scientists believe that sodium dodecyl sulfate, an detergent commonly found in shampoos and toothpastes, may someday be used to prevent the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Researchers at Penn State University announced yesterday that sodium dodecyl sulfate is the first topical agent ever proven to kill the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV infection often shows no symptoms but sometimes causes genital warts and has been linked to cervical cancer. Although additional research is warranted, initial reports indicate that sodium dodecyl sulfate also blocks the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
A spokesperson for the National Institutes of Health said that clinical tests on human subjects are tentatively planned for later this year. Before tests begin, researchers must figure out how to incorporate sodium dodecyl sulfate into a gel or film that women could insert in their vaginas before having sex. Since the detergent has already been proven safe for use on the skin and mucous membranes, researchers are hopefully that it will also be found safe for use in the vagina.