Lubricants may make anal sex a comfortable experience, but they may also raise the risk of spreading sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, according to a research.
According to two studies presented at the International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh, the risk of acquiring HIV through unprotected anal sex is at least 20 times greater than with unprotected vaginal sex and increases if other infections are already present in the rectal lining.
In one study involving nearly 900 men and women in Baltimore and Los Angeles, the researchers found that those who used lubricants were three times more likely to have rectal sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Another study that subjected popular over-the-counter and mail-order lubricants to rigorous laboratory tests discovered that many of the products were toxic to cells and rectal tissue. If in humans, these products have the same effect, the cells might be rendered more vulnerable targets for HIV infection than they already are.
Microbicides - substances applied topically on the inside of the rectum or vagina - could potentially help prevent the rectal transmission of HIV, and some are being tested in early Phase I safety studies.
Another approach called oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves the use of antiretroviral drugs to reduce the risk of HIV in HIV-negative people.