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.