Three British teens—two 14-year-olds and one 13-year-old—have proposed an idea for a new type of condom that could detect sexually transmitted diseases amongst intimate partners.
There would be antibodies on the condom that would interact with the antigens of STDs, causing the condom to change colors depending on the disease…For instance, if the condom were exposed to chlamydia, it might glow green — or yellow for herpes, purple for human papilloma virus and blue for syphilis.
The proposal won the trio the top prize in the U.K.’s TeenTech Awards, and they have already reportedly been approached by condom companies.
The idea, however, is not without its imperfections. It seems unclear whether the STIs would be detected in just the user’s partner or also the user as well. In addition, there’s the awkward question of what would happen if the condom came into contact with two or more STDs—not to mention the logistical difficulties of figuring out a way to determine the color with sufficient opportunity to make use of those findings.
The boys told the BBC that the color change would work on both sides of the condom for several different STIs, so that’s quite a bit of bulk to add, certainly a few steps beyond “ribbed.” Although the students suggests that, “green for chlamydia, purple for genital warts, blue for syphilis and yellow for herpes,” Baldwin explains that those are “all really different pathogens, and we have different ways of testing for them.” Those testing methods also usually rely on blood rather than vaginal fluid or semen.
The current tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia, both bacteria, use urine, but they detect the DNA of these bacteria, not the antibodies. The tests for syphilis (bacterial), HIV (viral) and hepatitis B and C (viral) require blood samples to test the antibodies, so the usual fluids that end up on a condom won’t help much. Further, these tests are often complex. Hepatitis tests in particular require confirmation because of how complex they are, Baldwin said, and HIV tests always require confirmation. Certainly none of these tests – which are all sent off to labs – can currently provide results in seconds or even minutes, which is presumably what you would need for a color-changing condom.
All said, how much will the condom cost? Has it made it grand entry in Kenya??
AUTHOR: MUKAMI KANYI.