Update: Rectal Microbicides in the Works
Microbicides are products—lubes, gels, films, and other forms—that are in development to prevent HIV transmission or acquisition. Microbicides currently in studies are applied to the rectum or vagina, making these products especially appealing for a couple of reasons.
First, topical application of HIV-fighting products puts microbicides right where they are most needed to prevent infection during sex.
Second, many people—men and women alike—already use lube to make anal or vaginal sex safer and more pleasurable, so a safe and effective microbicide product would be an HIV-prevention option with an already familiar (and even sexy) form.
In his just-released update (excerpted below), Jim Pickett, Director of Prevention Advocacy and Gay Men’s Health at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Chair of the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA), summarizes the state of rectal microbicide research and advocacy.
Curious about how rectal microbicides work, what the science says so far, and how advocates are pushing for this new HIV-prevention tool? Read the summary, then hop over to the IRMA site to join the rectal revolution!
By Jim Pickett
Until recently, microbicide research has focused on vaginal microbicides. Recent initiatives and ongoing studies highlight the need for safe and effective rectal microbicides as part of an essential HIV prevention toolkit.
Around the turn of the millennium, the microbicide field was almost solely focused on the research and development of vaginal microbicides, and community engagement and advocacy aligned with this priority. If scientists and advocates considered rectal microbicides (RMs) at all, it was strictly in the context of the need to test vaginal products for rectal safety, with the understanding that when a vaginal microbicide made it to market, it would likely be used in the rectum as well, or would migrate there during vaginal intercourse.
The realities of the HIV epidemic, though, point to anal intercourse (AI) as a practice that both men and women engage in, and as a significant factor in the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The work of a growing number of scientists and advocates has brought us to the early days of a new consciousness some are calling “the rectal revolution,” where researchers are investigating the role of RMs and related products as essential elements of HIV prevention. This summary describes where we are in the rectal revolution, and where we need to go….
Reilly O’Neal is a freelance writer and former editor of BETA.