New Anti-HIV Condom Available

Starpharma: VivaGel® Condom Receives TGA Device Certification – Launch Preparations to Follow

Don’t Get Too Excited About The ‘HIV-Killing’ Condom Yet

by Gabe Av Flickr/creative commons

by Gabe Av
Flickr/creative commons

An Australian company, Starpharmahas just received its government’s approval to produce and sell a promising new condom incorporating VivaGel®, a lubricant purported to block viral infections, including HIV, HPV, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), up to 99.9% of the time. The Australian consumer brand is LifeStyles Dual Protect, and the company has plans to market worldwide. 

Some experts, such as Dr. Anna-Barbara Moscicki, initially raised red flags. Dr. Mosciki submitted that her earlier study on HPV transmission and and other studies on HIV prevention, showed that VivaGel(R) can cause irritation of surrounding tissues, which of course increases the likely incidence of infection.

Starpharma’s clinical studies included 1000 participants, and its spokespeople were quick to neutralize these concerns by pointing out that those studies used a 3% concentration of VivaGel®, while its study used 1% and the drugstore version will be .5%, neither of which was shown to cause irritation.

If VivaGel® succeeds it promises to significantly reduce infection rates when these condoms are used for safer sex.

However, like all other condoms before these, they have to actually be used, making it doubtful that those needing it the most, the highest risk populations in certain countries, and others insisting on unprotected sex, will benefit.

The important take-away is that if used consistently and correctly, reliance on condoms, VivaGel® or not, significantly reduce the incidence of HIV and other STDs. This is underscored by trends showing that young people are chancing unprotected sex believing incorrectly that HIV is easily curable. It’s not. Go forth and have as much sex as you wish but make sure it is safer sex.

So what do you think of this new product, and how it may say lives?

Condom poster by Jun Jhen Lew Flickr/creative commons

Condom poster by Jun Jhen Lew
Flickr/creative commons


National Sex Study reveals what we are up to

National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior

Strand Book Store by Nick Sherman (flickr/creativecommons

Strand Book Store
by Nick Sherman

A new study, the largest in 20 years, represents a clarion call for anyone having sex (or not having sex for that matter). Researchers from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion (CSHP) at Indiana University’s School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation examine the sexual experience and condom-use in almost 6000 people, ages 14-94.

“These data about sexual behaviors and condom use in contemporary America are critically needed by medical and public health professionals who are on the front lines addressing issues such as HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and unintended pregnancy.” (CSHP Director, Michael Reece)

Here are a few things that caught our attention, but it is definitely worth a fair read because you will learn a lot and, more important, it allows you to analyze your own behaviors.

[T]he study helps both the public and professionals to understand how condom use patterns vary across these varying stages in people’s relationships and across ages, adding that “findings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years.” (CSHP Associate Director, Debby Herbenick)

Condom use is of course up to 1 in 4 sexual encounters, although for single people it is 1 in 3, and people of color in America use condoms more than their white counterparts. That may sound like good news except that that means as many as 66-75% are having unprotected sex. 

Adults using a condom for intercourse were just as likely to rate the sexual extent positively in terms of arousal, pleasure and orgasm than when having intercourse without one.

Click here to see Condom Use Graph

Sexual behaviors, from solo and partner masturbation and oral sex to vaginal and anal intercourse. Males masturbate alone more than females, not surprising. But there is near gender equity during our 40s, with males at 76% and females at 65%.

Females are having very little anal penetration, 4-5% before age 18, jumping to 18% by age 20, and then stays around 22% until age 40 and then dropping drastically after that.

Males performing oral sex on females gets into the double digits, 18%, by age 16, and steadily rises to its peak at 74% for ages 25-29, and then slowly declines after that.

Females performing oral sex on males is predictably is substantially greater but males do actually reciprocate in greater numbers only in our 30s.

Click here to see Sexual Behavior Graph

The data continues to show that adolescents are actually having less sex than previous studies (that focused only on teens) have suggested.

Photo of Roman Lesbian Statue by Rob Meredith (flickr/creativecommons

Photo of Roman Lesbian Statue by Rob Meredith (flickr/creativecommons

The study confirms that beyond the stats of sexual orientation in men and women, the numbers of American’s having had same-gender sex at some point in their lives is “higher.”

And, oh yes, the study confirms that males report the incidence of their female partners’ frequency of orgasm at 85% while females say it’s only 64%.

You can download the study’s full report by going to the National Sex Study website.

Carrying Condoms Not Only Makes You A Slut, but also a Prostitute

Initiatives in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., allow the police to search and arrest women carrying three or more condoms late at night under prostitution charges.

So a woman carrying a few condoms can be arrested under the suspicion of being a prostitute? Does this profiling sound familiar? It’s just like the stigmatization that teen girls who carry even one condom receive from their peers whether or not she planned to use it: if a girl carries condoms, she’s automatically a “slut.” This is called “slut shamming,” or as a 13-year-old girl describes it in her video, Slut Shamming and Why it’s Wrong, “the act of degrading or mocking a woman because she dresses in tight or revealing clothing, enjoys sex, has a lot of sex, or is rumored to be sexually active.” Furthermore, slut shaming makes a woman or girl feel guilty or inferior for being sexually active, having multiple sex partners, or acting or dressing in a way that is deemed excessively sexual.

You might recall a popular example of slut shamming in recent media when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute on air for advocating for contraception coverage and women’s health. This type of unwarranted labeling steers teen girls away from carrying condoms to avoid being labeled a “slut.” Likewise, these initiatives will steer women, sex worker or not, away from carrying condoms to avoid being labeled a prostitute and arrested. In the case of actual sex workers, trying to protect themselves from arrest forces them to participate in unprotected sex, increasing the spread of STD/STIs among sex workers, their clients, and the general public at large.

How can we fight gender discrimination and the stigmatization of teen girls carrying condoms when the government is legally allowed to do the same to women carrying condoms? How can we encourage our female youth to protect their sexual health while condemning the sexuality of women sex workers and dooming their sexual health? How can we convince boys that slut shaming is wrong when it is legal? These laws are asinine and need to be stopped. If a 13-year-old knows better, then there is no excuse for the government and the police department to support this type of sexist profiling.

Activists at the SlutWalk NYC in October 2011. SlutWalk is a worldwide movement, originating in Toronto Canada, working to challenge mindsets and stereotypes of American society that blames the victim or survivor in sexual assault cases and slut shaming.


Slutwalks are taking place all over the world for the second year to address these specious attacks on sexual freedom at the grassroots, including tomorrow in D.C.

Creative Commons Image by: David Shankbone