Friday, March 11, 2005

goop for the vagina

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, I didn't miss this article on Slate about microbicides. Back on International Women's Day (March 8), Senators Corzine (D-IL), Obama (D-IL) and Snowe (R-ME) introduced a bill to increase funding for microbicide research, thereby increasing the likelihood that women around the world will have the chance to be more empowered to protect themselves from HIV infection.

Globally, the number of women who are living with HIV/AIDS continues to increase. In addition to being more biological susceptible to infection, many women are not in the position to demand that their partners use condoms because of culturally-influenced stigma and economic dependence. (Just in case you are under the false impression that I am only speaking of women in the developing world, check out the disproportionate increase in HIV infections among women of color and low income women in the United States.) Other women are becoming infected through acts of sexual violence where they have no say at all.

If you're wondering what a microbicide is, it's basically a topically applied product that, when put inside the vagina, can serve as a barrier to HIV. It can be applied ahead of time and often without the knowledge of your sexual partner.

Amanda Schaffer, the author of the Slate article, focuses on the hangups that are getting in the way of funding for microbides. As she says, "goop for the vagina" is not likely to get any senator re-elected (I'd vote for them). Once again, hang ups about sexuality -- as well as the persistent imposition of middle class "Christian" values is getting in the way of saving lives.

Read the article.

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