[Editor's Note:] This guest post is by Jim Pickett, director of advocacy for AIDS Foundation Chicago. Jim is also chair of the Chicago Crystal Meth Task Force and chair of the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates.
Most of us use lube when we have butt sex, to get the ass nice and slick. Wouldn't it be nice if the lube also had a special ingredient that offered some protection against HIV and other STDs?
For years gay men have been beaten senseless with “use a condom every time,” “no glove no love” and other proclamations about the joy of latex sex and the horrors that befall those who don’t comply.
And, for good reason. Condoms are still the best method we have of protecting ourselves and our boyfriends/lovers/tricks from HIV and other STDs. But, many of us are frankly sick and tired of using condoms and long for the heat and intimacy of sex without a latex barrier.
Some gay men have stopped using condoms or only use them sometimes when we have anal sex. It doesn’t matter if you call it “barebacking,” “raw sex,” or simply “natural sex” about 50% of us are not using condoms consistently.
Cue the finger pointing, gnashing of teeth, screaming and hollering bemoaning the shameful and reckless behavior of them.
Breathe and compose yourself.
We are 26 years into the AIDS epidemic. Why are we satisfied with only one way to protect ourselves and each other from sexual transmission of HIV? There may be another way.
A rectal microbicide could be that very thing - an agent within a lubricant that could provide protection against HIV and maybe other STDs in the absence of condoms. Or it could provide additional protection with condoms. A rectal microbicide could also be delivered via enema, or rectal douche. Quite a few of us who like to be on the receiving end do some sort of cleansing prior to action, so it would be brilliant to include a rectal microbicide in an enema or rectal douche formulation. This agent may create a barrier in the rectum so HIV cannot enter, it may kill the virus outright, or perhaps it would interfere with HIV’s replication process.
None of this is a pipe dream. There are concerted research and development activities happening now considering each of these options.
In early 2007, UCLA launched the first human trial testing a proposed microbicide for rectal safety – the first effort in rectal microbicide research that went beyond the lab and looked at real, live, human booties. Very exciting stuff. I also chair an international network of over 500 advocates and scientists from 38 countries called the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA.) Our mission is to support research and development of safe, effective and acceptable rectal microbicides for the men and women who need them. Yes, women. In terms of overall numbers (just in the US) 7x more women engage in anal sex than gay men.
So, these products are for all of us, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. A lot of people are having anal intercourse, and a lot of it is unprotected. The field needs to hear from people like you, and those you fuck. You can start by getting involved with IRMA.