Don't just spread the word about safe sex: Spread it on. A scientist from Quebec City has whipped up a liquid condom that's non-toxic, transparent and tasteless. The "condom" is acutally a polymer gel that squirts out of a five-inch plastic applicator into the folds of the vagina or onto the butt cheeks. "It gelifies immediately with body heat. The penis will be surrounded by it as you penetrate," said invisible rubber inventory Dr. Michel Bergeron, of the Laval Infectious Diseases Research Center in Canada. "It's a physical barrier, but it moves—that's the advantage." The gel can be flushed out with water.
The doc developed the rubber in response to patients' confessions of shirking too-tight condoms. And because it puts the power in the receiving end, Bergeron said the gel will "protect women [from] men who refuse to wear latex." Laval will launch human clinical trials this spring, engaging 100 sex workers who say they don't use condoms. Half will use the liquid love glove on the job, the other half won't. Studies will concentrate on the gel's effectiveness in blocking HIV, herpes and pregnancy. Adding lube to the equation shouldn't hurt, Bergeron said, though this wasn't tested in the lab. "With mice, that would be a little difficult." Laval aims to market the product by 1999.