Australian Olympic Team to Combat Zika by Handing Out Anti-Viral Condoms Ahead of Rio Games

The condoms are treated with anti-viral gel.

Condoms containing Vivagel, an antiviral agent, will be distributed in the hopes of diminishing the chances of the Zika virus infecting athletes, team officials said in a statement today.

“The health and wellbeing of the Team comes first and our association with Starpharma will provide extra protection for everyone on the Team, and is a common sense approach to a very serious problem we are facing in Rio," Chief of the Mission of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team Kitty Chiller in a statement today.

The condoms have already been found in laboratory settings to inactivate HIV, genital herpes and the human papillomavirus, according to Starpharma, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures Vivagel. The company also said they gel has shown to provide protection against the Zika virus in laboratory studies.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt Medical Center, said that while the anti-viral component of these condoms may seem to be helpful, they have yet to be proven to add extra protection in a real-world setting.

"I think every public health person would say, 'That’s nice.' But the important thing is to use the condom each and every time for the recommended period," to prevent infection, Schaffner told ABC News today.

The WHO issued warnings last week that people who are pregnant should not go the Olympic games and people who do go should abstain from sex or use a condom for at least four weeks after they return from the area.