Thursday, March 6, 2008

Less Silence, More Science Would Make Anal Sex Safer

Advocating for Rectal Microbicides
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The quest to develop a microbicide that protects against HIV infection is proving daunting. Such a compound would be part of a lube or other product used during sex, or perhaps before it, such as a douche.

But a couple of candidates have fallen by the wayside and that was in trials of vaginal sex, not anal sex where transmission of the virus is far more efficient and the challenges of protection presumably far greater.

International Rectal Microbicides Advocates is one of the few groups pushing for development of microbicides that can be used in the rectum. It issued a report on February 24 in New Delhi, India, at the start of the biennial confab of microbicides researchers. The title of that report said it all: "Less Silence, More Science."

A paltry $7 million a year is being spent on research into rectal microbicides, only about 3 percent of the total microbicide portfolio. Almost all of the rectal funding is coming from the National Institutes of Health. IRMA is calling for a five-fold increase to $35 million by 2010, and a diversification of funding from multiple sources.

Common misconceptions are that only gay men are interested in a rectal microbicide and that heterosexuals don't engage in anal sex. But research shows otherwise. Studies in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that anywhere from 10 percent to 35 percent of heterosexual women have engaged in anal sex.

"In absolute numbers, seven times more heterosexual women than gay men in the U.S. practice receptive anal intercourse," the IRMA report noted.

Read the rest.

Learn more about rectal microbicides at the home of IRMA - THE global force in rectal microbicide advocacy. Visit

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