Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Caveat Rectum!

Repeat after me:

“No proven microbicides exist yet.”
“No microbicides have yet been proven to be safe and effective.”

Obviously, this is what we are all trying to change as advocates and researchers in this field. In the meantime, let’s remember this when faced on an alarmingly regular basis with unproven claims.

The Global Campaign for Microbicides maintains an Unproven Product Claims Watch, and for good reason! IRMA recently worked with GCM and the Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK to address one case of these cases (check the News section for the February 6 on the IRMA website). Sadly, it is far from the only one.

The situation would be funny – except that these products, which allegedly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, may in fact do the opposite. There is usually no proof that these products are even safe, let alone effective!

Bogus claims have appeared in all sorts of ways, as the following true examples demonstrate. So “Caveat Rectum!” For that matter, a warning to all orifices with delicate mucosal tissue: keep away from the following:

  • Makers of industrial-strength detergents that claim that their product not only kills all pathogens in hospital settings at 50 paces, but can also be applied as a personal lubricant and protect you from infection. DANGER, DANGER!

  • Seemingly friendly microbiologists who collect seaweed during the week, stew them on their stovetop at home in the evenings, and sell the resulting gel as a microbicide at your local farmer’s market on the weekend. DANGER, DANGER!

  • Non-profit organizations claiming to address AIDS in Africa by providing sprays containing known irritants to mucosal lining to African women, and who manage to convince at least one African government to promote the spray for HIV prevention. DANGER, DANGER!

  • Researchers who promote products easily found in the produce section of your local market, or any other product that is “natural”, “organic”, “already widely available and used” – yet not tested for safety or efficacy. DANGER, DANGER!

Believe me, once there are safe and effective microbicides available, you’ll hear all of us squealing with delight like a gaggle of gays at a Celine Dion concert. In the meantime, repeat after me:

“No proven microbicides exist yet.”
“No microbicides have yet been proven to be safe and effective.”

If you see any claims to the contrary, please notify IRMA and GCM. We’ll work with you to keep the world safe!

1 comment:

Jim Pickett said...

Thanks for this really important posgt Marc-Andre. We all really need to be on the look out for false and fraudulent claims, that are only going to increase as the field of microbicides matures.

Jim Pickett

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