Australia to issue Zika-proof condoms to Rio athletes

A worker installs cables on the tall Ling Long Tower showing the Olympic logo at the Olympic Green Park on a sunny Saturday Aug. 2 2008 in Beijing. The Beijing Olympics starts Friday August 8

While the physical barrier of the condom provides primary protection, the condom lubricant contains VivaGelĀ®, an antiviral agent that has been proven in laboratory studies to inactivate HIV, HSV (genital herpes) and HPV (human papillomavirus), which are viruses that cause sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Taking the latest research and warnings into account the company conducted more VivaGel tests that "showed near-complete antiviral protection against Zika virus", the company said in a statement.

Ansell Limited reported a net profit of $96.8 million at 31 December 2015.

Considering the Zika virus could be transmitted by unsafe sex, World Health Organization and PAHO suggest athletes and visitors to practice safer sex or abstain from sex during their stay and for at least four weeks after their return, particularly if they have had or are experiencing symptoms of Zika virus.

"Given sexual transmission of Zika virus is of increasing importance, the potent activity of Starpharma's VivaGel against Zika could prove very significant", Starpharma's chief executive Jackie Fairley said.

Australian golfer Marc Leishman has already pulled out of the Games, over concerns for his wife's health should he contract Zika. "Zika infection is more risky, and Brazil's outbreak more extensive, than scientists reckoned a short time ago", he writes.

The manufacturer's supply will be in addition to the 450,000 regular condoms in dispensing machines in every block of the Olympic village - 350,000 male condoms and 100,000 female ones, as well as 175,000 sachets of lubricant.

Zika virus disease usually causes mild symptoms, and most people will not develop any symptoms. It has also been linked to problems in infants, including eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.

"You've got to come and enjoy", he said. "People are completely safe here".

Meanwhile, calls for the Games to be relocated or postponed continue to grow, since Brazil is simultaneously plagued with a teetering economy, political instability, polluted waters at Olympic sites, grossly under-fiananced medical care, all while essentially being Ground Zero for the Zika crisis.

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