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Editorials and Commentary

Saying No to N-9

September 30, 2002

"There doesn't seem to be any justifiable reason for gay men to use lubricant that contains nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that is added to some products such as ForPlay Gel Plus, KY Plus, and ID Plus. Recent studies by the [CDC], the World Health Organization, and the Population Council of New York have each demonstrated that hundreds of sheets of epithelial cells, which provide a protective membrane in the anus, were stripped away by products containing N-9.

"This recent research overrides an earlier study that, unfortunately, has proven to be false, yet many gay men have apparently not gotten the word. Originally, N-9 was thought to help prevent HIV, because it killed the virus in a test tube. Well, the inside of the anus isn't a test tube, and now it's been documented that N-9 washes away the protective cells.

"...We're not the sex police; however, we would like to clearly state that the scientific research is sound -- N-9 does not prevent HIV, it only adds to the risk of becoming infected.

"...Concerned citizens can contact the manufacturers of lube containing N-9, and urge them to stop making such products. People can also appeal directly to the stores that continue to stock lubricant with N-9, especially those that cater to gay men.

"People can also contact their local government representatives to encourage legislative efforts to ban N-9 lubricants, or contact their federal representatives to put pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to take N-9 lubricants off the market.

"Activists were successful in their effort last year to get the FDA to force pharmaceutical companies to retool their direct-to-consumer ads for HIV medications so that they more accurately listed side effects and so that they were clear that there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. At the very least, the FDA should require manufacturers of lubricant with N-9 to include a warning label on the bottle -- just like tobacco companies are required to do for their products.

"Most importantly, however, gay men can take matters into their own hands simply by not buying lubricants that contain N-9. If there's no market, the stores won't stock it, and the manufacturers will stop making it. Think twice before purchasing lube with N-9. If you're not sure about the product, check the label. You control your body."

Back to other CDC news for September 30, 2002

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Adapted from:
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More Research on Nonoxynol-9