Making Lube a Part of the Discussion
Condoms are the single most effective way to block the transmission of HIV during intercourse. Without proper lubricant, however, they are liable to break or slip off, especially during anal intercourse. Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of access to condom-compatible lubricant for gay men, other men who have sex with men, and transgender individuals (collectively referred to as “GMT”) in low- and middle-income countries. The problem is acute in sub-Saharan Africa where the severity of the HIV epidemic is greatest and GMT struggle to overcome stigma and discrimination.
In an effort to help make safe, affordable, condom-compatible (meaning water- or silicone-based) lubricant available to all Africans who engage in anal intercourse, amfAR’s GMT Initiative joined forces with the International Rectal Microbicides Advocates (IRMA) and the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) to create the Global Lube Access Mobilization (GLAM) campaign.
The campaign successfully launched its social marketing initiative called “And Lube” at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, and released the GLAM Toolkit, Version 1.0 in December. “With the ‘And Lube’ tagline, we are making sure that whenever and wherever condoms are provided as part of HIV prevention programming, appropriate lubricant should also be available,” said GMT Initiative Director Kent Klindera.
The comprehensive toolkit provides a wealth of information for activists to help make lubricant access a reality. It includes reviews of country National Strategic Plans on HIV/AIDS throughout Africa, a discussion of stigma associated with the use of lubricant, and advocacy steps aimed at helping activists engage their communities and governments to achieve the goal of improving access to lubricant. It also offers basic information on lubricant, including the fact that products like body lotion or Vaseline—that are oil- or petroleum-based—reduce the effectiveness of condoms and are not appropriate replacements for lubricant.
While the GLAM toolkit focuses on Africa, its lessons are broadly applicable and the GLAM campaign encourages advocates around the world to use and adapt the toolkit for their own local contexts. In 2013, amfAR will continue the partnership by supporting small grants to help African activists advocate at the national and local level for greater access to lubricant.