Friday, November 13, 2009

Got Lube? The slippery slope for African men who don’t

Image from South Africa's Health4Men website - see their very helpful section on lubricant info, including tips on how to make your own - really!

via Positively Aware, by Jim Pickett

Beyond addressing the huge issues faced by African gay/MSM—egregious human rights violations, criminalization, invisibility in official data sets, meaning zero resources and zero programs—we need to do the basics. We need to get these guys lube. Proper water-based lube. Stat.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? 

For those of us acquainted with the finer points of anal intercourse, the thought of engaging in this activity without any type of lubrication takes that dropped jaw and turns it into a grimace. And the fact that lube-free anal sex hurts, and tears, and burns creates a perfect storm in the rectum for HIV transmission.

And we all know that oil-based lubes are a big no-no with latex condoms—though using these lubes in the absence of condoms is still much, much better than using nothing.

What’s going on here? There are huge barriers to lubricant use, including cost and very limited availability, as well as the stigma attached to buying lubricant (you shouldn’t need to buy lube for vaginal sex, right? If you’re buying lube, you must be doing bad things.) Many African men who have the ability to travel come back from the West with suitcases packed with lubricant for their friends—the demand is extremely high. But this is not the best distribution system, is it?

It was this last set of facts around lubricant use in general (high) and the amount of men using water-based lubes (low) that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. How in the hell can we even talk about getting rectal microbicides to these men when, currently, they don’t even have proper lubricant?
Read the whole thing.

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