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Pros and Cons of new anti-HIV vaginal gel

Could Anti-HIV Gel Actually Lead to Less Safe Sex?

At this year's international AIDS conference, the world health community celebrated a new vaginal gel that decreases a woman's risk of contracting HIV. "For the first time we have seen results for a woman-initiated and controlled HIV prevention option," said the director of the UN's AIDS policy. But could this option also be a burden?

The gel, used before sex, is intended for women who cannot convince their partners to use condoms, which, according to the UN, amounts to most women in the world. Critics say embracing such a gel as the solution cements the idea that a man has a right to condomless sex. In other words, huge amounts of money is going toward research simply to make sure men don't have to wear condoms, instead of focusing resources on teaching safe sex and changing social norms.

For more on the dilemma keep reading.

While the gel's original purpose does concede to men's desires, it has the potential to give women a way to take control of their sexual health. Men have condoms, why can't women have a gel? But it's not there yet. The gel is 39 percent effective in preventing HIV, while condoms are 98 percent with perfect use and 85 percent with typical use. So for now, at-risk women in dire situations will use the gel to increase their protection — and that's something to welcome.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
KateAthens KateAthens 7 years
Well if it could protect 99% against all std's then i would consider it as a condom alternative. As it is now. Its garbage.
xgreenfairyx xgreenfairyx 7 years
"The gel, used before sex, is intended for women who cannot convince their partners to use condoms, which, according to the UN, amounts to most women in the world." ...So, according to this sentence, women are actually WILLINGLY CONSENTING to unsafe sex, just because they can't get a man to put on a condom? I'm pretty sure that's not what the UN meant...if they said that, it was probably the 'nice' way of saying 'women who are culturally and/or physically FORCED into accepting sexual advances'....but if I'm purely going by that statement, and you're stupid enough to be presented a choice of either safer sexual contact, dangerous sexual contact, and no sexual contact, and CHOOSE to be unsafe.....then no amount of gel or condoms would have saved you (male or female) in the first place. It's patronizing enough, insinuating that women can't insist on, encourage, or demand safer sex when in a sexual situation, or that men are 'winners' and dominators whose pleasures must be placated or else. But let's make a gel so women are burdened with responsibility and can be blamed if they don't use it, and men can enjoy themselves! Sigh. Not a good message, UN. Condom dispersal and usage are STILL major issues in developing communities (I'm guessing these are where this gel is aimed), so how the hell is this expensively produced gel going to be effectively dispensed BETTER than condoms? This money would've been better spent setting up ONE health clinic in South Africa handing out condoms.
weffie weffie 7 years
Are they going to give it away for free? Because "most women in the world" can't afford condoms even if their partners are willing to use them. And who says women are pro-condoms and men are anti-condoms anyways? Even here in Canada (where we start sex ed in grades 4 - 6 and can get free condoms from a number of places) I know quite a few women* who have unsafe sex because it feels better, not because their partners refuse to use protection. *dirty sIuts :P
theCatsPajamas theCatsPajamas 7 years
With 39% effectiveness, the gel is hardly going to be "embraced as a solution" to the AIDS epidemic. BUT, along with condoms and education, it IS a valuable tool to protect women. For critics to say that this research money should be re-allocated toward changing social norms is irresponsible -- social norms do need to be changed, and this gel is a stepping stone toward that. Anything that puts the power into the hands of the powerless is a good thing. Saying this gel promotes a man's right to condomless sex is like saying the HPV vaccine allows men to forgo STD testing. We all have the right to protect ourselves, we can't depend on our partners, especially those that aren't willing to slide a condom on. I believe the gel is an important addition to our arsenal of self-protection. More options make us safer, not more vulnerable.
juicebox07 juicebox07 7 years
I think this might be a good idea to use along with a condom, but without a condom? I don't think so. 39% effective isn't very much.
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