Friday, April 03, 2009

The barrier performance of latex rubber

A study in permeability and manufacturing flows of latex rubber published by C.M. Roland in The Rubber World:
From a broad assessment of data on HIV transmission rates during heterosexual contact, the use of a condom was estimated to provide only a tenfold reduction rate risk of contagion. This compares, for example, to the 5,000-fold increase in protection level afforded by avoiding coitus with partners from high risk groups

The author concludes:
Latex rubber devices originate as a suspension of particles coated with surfactants intended to prevent the particles from coalescing. The use of such a material for barrier protection for a 100 nanometer virus seems counter-intuitive. Certainly the presence of defects in latex rubber is well established; however, the origin, detailed nature and hence relevance of these flaws to the prophylactic performance of latex rubber is open to question. Channels penetrating the entire thickness of latex gloves have been directly observed, but more evidence of this type is needed. Unfortunately, condom inspection methods currently in use are inadequate for the detection of micron-sized flaws.

2 comments:

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