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."
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.