March 13, 2014 2:09 PM EDT

Researchers are a step closer to developing a vaginal gel that could protect women against HIV, according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine, though scientists admit more testing is necessary.

The difference between this study and others on prevention gels? This gel was applied and tested after sex. A team of U.S. researchers found that the gel protected five out of six monkeys from an animal-human laboratory strain of HIV when applied shortly before or up to three hours after infection, the BBC reported.

Since the drug has the potential to work after HIV exposure, the findings could lead to new ways to fight HIV particularly in cases of rape as the virus continues to spread globally.

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