AIDs Progress: A vaginal gel he never has to know about

by d
via Flickr user Evissa

via Flickr user Evissa

The Washington Post is reporting encouraging results about a new product-in-testing. The product is a gel, to be used vaginally, by women who have little control over their sexual health.

In a study of 900 South African women, a gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir reduced the overall chance of infection by 39 percent. In women who used the substance consistently and as directed, the protection was even better: 54 percent.

The findings of the study, which will be described Tuesday at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, marks the first success in a 15-year-long search for a method of HIV prevention that can be controlled by women at risk of contracting the disease through sexual intercourse. Short of a vaccine, an effective “vaginal microbicide” has been the most elusive goal in the epidemic.

The fight against AIDs has run up against cultural barriers. Aside from religions like Catholicism forbidding the use of condoms, many regions, particularly in Africa, have long-standing views that make the spread of infection almost inevitable.

Polygamy has been practiced in Africa for centuries. A man’s worth is/was measured by the size of his cattle herd, his number of wives, and how many children he sired. This means they have a strong desire to spread their seed among their multiple wives, without barriers. They aren’t interested in condoms, they very much want their wives to fall pregnant. This desire overrides any concerns about disease, even in the current era. Lack of understanding of how AIDs is transmitted complicates the problem further. See Zuma, Jacob.

The feeling of entitlement these men possess is such that an anti-rape condom has been developed. Rape-Axe was developed in South Africa, where rape statistics are staggering. The Rape-Axe is worn by women who feel they are at risk of attack. When an attacker’s penis enters the sleeve of the condom, tiny needles pierce and hook into his flesh. As a bonus, the condom sleeve protects the woman from fluids, helping to prevent the spread of AIDs.

There are women all across the globe whose lovers and husbands would take serious affront at the mere suggestion that they use contraceptives. They would rather expose themselves to disease and pass it between the women they sleep with than take affront to their masculinity.

This gel could save lives. The men never have to know.

2 Comments to “AIDs Progress: A vaginal gel he never has to know about”

  1. I hate that there are still societies in which women are forced to hide their reproductive health choices if they want to have any access to choices at all. And, I hate that it can be found happening even in societies like the US where women are supposed to have more control. Still, there are women even here who don’t. And its sickening.

    I’m glad that they’ve made these things, though. Its unfortunate that they’re necessary, but that doesn’t change that they ARE necessary.

  2. That’s amazing.

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