More safety data needed on lubricants used in anal sex

Published: April 16, 2012

There is a growing realization that there is a significant issue of HIV acquisition through anal intercourse not only for men who have sex with men (MSM) who are clearly very visible HIV high risk group but increasingly for women who may be exposed to the virus through anal intercourse with their male partners. Also in recent studies, most people (men and women) who practice anal intercourse reported using  some kind of a lubricant (such as gel, cream, or saliva among others).

So when the ongoing rectal microbicides research yields a safe and effective rectal microbicide towards later half of this decade, then rectal microbicide could be added to these lubricants as most people practicing anal intercourse are already comfortable with using lubricants, said Professor (Dr) Ian McGowan, Co-Chair of International Microbicides Conference (M2012) in Sydney, Australia; Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-principal investigator, Microbicide Trials Network (MTN).
"What we have seen at this conference is that there is a growing evidence of MSM populations in African nations and HIV rates are alarmingly high in them" said Dr McGowan.

As per published data, not only MSM, there are number of women as well who reported to have anal sex. According to the data from a study in San Francisco, US, very high lubricant use was reported (89%) among those MSM who were practicing anal intercourse, said Dr Shauna Stahlman from Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Despite high use of lubricants in anal sex, “there has been little research focused on lubricants” said Dr Stahlman. Dr Stahlman was speaking at the M2012 in Sydney.

According to another large study done in US, 59% of 6124 men and women participants who reported to practice anal intercourse were always using a commercial lubricant.

Another Peruvian study assessed lubricant use during receptive anal intercourse among 843 Peruvian MSM and willingness to use a hypothetical rectal microbicide (RM) formulated as a lubricant to prevent HIV infection. 48% reported to use a lubricant with their last partner. Out of these MSM using a lubricant with their last partner, 54% used a gel (such as KY jelly), 9% used a Vaseline or oil, 13% used a cream and 24% had used saliva.

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