Acknowledging recent studies showing that the spermicide nonoxynol-9 increases the risks for HIV transmission, SSL International, the maker of Durex condoms, has stopped making condoms that contain the compound, BBC News reports. Studies have shown nonoxynol-9 can damage the cellular membranes in the vagina and anus, making the cells more susceptible to HIV infection. The World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have all sounded warnings about the use of products that contain the compound because of the increased HIV risks. SSL said in a statement that the company "is anticipating a material reduction in demand for spermicidally lubricated condoms following a recent WHO report which questioned the level of additional protection provided by such condoms when compared to non-spermicidally lubricated condoms. In light of this, SSL decided to discontinue using the spermicide N-9 in our condom manufacturing process."
Other companies that have stopped adding nonoxynol-9 to their products include Mayer Laboratories, the maker of Kimono and Maxx condoms, and Johnson and Johnson, which manufactures KY products. However, industry-leading condom brands Trojan and Lifestyles still offer condoms that contain the compound.
AIDS agencies and activists praised SSL's decision. California state assemblyman Paul Koretz, who represents West Hollywood, said the decision puts the health of the company's customers ahead of profits and market share. "I commend Durex Consumer Products for responding to the compelling evidence that spermicide-coated condoms are a risk to public health," he said. In March, Koretz introduced a resolution in the California assembly urging the Food and Drug Administration, condom manufacturers, and retailers to end the production and sale of condoms containing nonoxynol-9.