Microbicide Gel That Prevents HIV Could Also Increase Sexual Pleasure!

Remember that awesome microbicide gel that was found to be 39% effective in reducing HIV but was facing funding difficulties? The gel contains the drug tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug used widely in the treatment of HIV, and is designed to be used vaginally both before and after penile-vaginal penetration. HIV and women’s groups were hailing its development as a big and positive step in the fight against the epidemic.

Well, it turns out that fighting HIV isn’t the only thing this gel is proving to be good at!

From the South Africa Press Association:

“Efforts to cut the risk of women contracting HIV could have an interesting side effect — sexual pleasure. This emerged…during a previous study involving another gel — that proved unsuccessful in the fight against HIV — participants had noted the gel improved their sexual pleasure.

“One of the big messages we got, was many women said ‘We liked this’.”
Most of the feedback during that study had come from women in their menopause. If the gel proved successful, the sexual pleasure factor could be a potential marketing option, she said.”

All too often in public health discussions, sexual pleasure, and especially women’s sexual pleasure, ranks close to last on the list of priorities. I’m incredibly happy to see it being considered in this context- inadvertent or not.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to her work at Feministing, Lori is an Associate Director at Planned Parenthood Global. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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