Lemons for Birth Control?
After investigating traditional contraceptive techniques,
an eminent Australian-based scientist has proved that
lemon juice diluted five to one with water kills HIV
and sperm within seconds.
Roger Short's findings will be made public in a scientific
paper read at The Ninth International Symposium on Spermatology
at the University of the Western Cape next week.
Symposium convener Professor Gerhard van der Horst
is excited by the discovery of a cheap, universally
available, non-technical way to block HIV transmission,
and describes Short's paper as "a milestone".
A woman whose husband insists on "nyama to nyama"
can protect herself against HIV transmission with a
small sponge and watered-down lemon juice, perhaps leaving
him none the wiser. Men may also anoint themselves with
the acidic juice to prevent transmission.
The abstract of the paper says: "Historically,
lemon juice on a sponge, or half a lemon placed over
the cervix, was widely used as an effective contraceptive.
We have shown that 20% lemon juice (final concentration)
in human semen irreversibly immobilises 100% of sperm
in less than 30 seconds. A similar concentration also
rapidly inactivates HIV. Thus intra-vaginal lemon juice
might provide a cheap, readily available and extremely
effective way of stopping the sexual transmission of
HIV, whilst also providing contraception."
The paper refers to additional strategies, including
circumcision for men, which more than halves the risk
of HIV infection. The virus appears to enter the penis
via specific HIV-receptive Langerhans cells on the inner
surface of the foreskin. The vagina has its own Langerhans
cells that are also the main entry point for HIV in
Thickening the vaginal epithelium by estrogen administration
could provide cheap, safe and effective HIV protection
for women, but drug firms are not interested, says Short.
Based at the University of Melbourne, Short is also
professor-at-large at Cornell University in the United
States, and a visiting fellow of Green College, Oxford.
His career began in England at Cambridge in 1956. He
was co-editor and principal author of the eight-volume
Reproduction in Mammals published by Cambridge University
Press from 1972 onward, which was translated into six
The lemon juice breakthrough is not the first scientific
bombshell he has lobbed. He was part of the Cambridge
University team that crossed a camel with a llama in
Dubai. He also co-authored a physiological study presenting
strong evidence that the elephant was an aquatic mammal
in an earlier evolutionary phase. He has published more
than 300 scientific papers and, with Dr Malcolm Potts,
wrote a bestseller aimed at the layman: Ever Since Adam
and Eve: The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1999).
Short's interest in the transmission of HIV infection
arose naturally from his research activities of the
past 20 years, which focused on contraception, the evolution
of human reproduction and the causes of the Earth's
All Africa.Com October 4, 2002