Cow’s milk gets a bad rep today between lactose intolerance, allergies, and concerns over antibiotics given to the cows themselves. The fact is it still has a lot of nutrients for those who can stomach it, such as vitamin D and calcium. But scientists at Melbourne University in Australia have done something to make cow’s milk extra special. Researchers worked along with Immuron, Ltd. (an Australian biotechnology company) to give pregnant cows an HIV protein as a vaccination. The result: After giving birth, the cow’s milk initially contained antibodies that counteracted HIV.

But cows can’t even get HIV, right? While that is true, their bodies still produce antibodies to defend against the foreign protein, and these are then passed to the baby through milk right after birth. The colostrom (first milk) of a cow has been known to transmit necessary antibodies to keep calves from infection, and it has proved to be so in the case of HIV as well.

What was done with the milk in lab research? When tested, the antibodies combined with the HIV disease and counteracted its ability to enter human cells.

The research team is planning to use this discovery to develop a cream to prevent the spread of HIV. The idea would be for a woman to spread the cream on her vagina either before or immediately after sex (both for those who believe in ‘better safe than sorry’). Then, even if the partner was infected, the antibodies in the cream would prevent the HIV from being able to enter the woman’s cells. This isn’t the first company to come up with the idea of a microbicide to fight HIV infection. The hype is over the fact that this should be a cheaper and easier way to do it.

Of course, this is still a little ways off since first there will be animal testing and then human testing before the product can be marketed.