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This HIV-Preventing Gel Comes with a Bonus: Heightened Sexual Pleasure

The same gel that helps prevent HIV may also have a welcome side effect.

Let's face it: There's nothing particularly fun about discussing HIV and safe sex. But what if you could make prevention easier by throwing in an extra perk, like increased sexual pleasure?

Microbicide gels that are used during sex to prevent HIV aren't new. In the summer of 2010, a microbicide was shown to be 39 percent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV to female partners (it later hit a funding wall). But Tuesday, researchers in South Africa announced plans for a 24-month trial of a new gel, to begin later this summer. The gel contains the antiretroviral drug tenofovir, and is meant to be used vaginally both before and after penile-vaginal penetration.

It was at this launch event where the gel's, um, side effect came to light. Helen Rees, a professor involved with the research, said participants in past gel studies had noted an increase in sexual pleasure while using it. "One of the big messages we got, was many women said 'We liked this'," Rees said, a rather demure way of saying they had fun with it in the sack.

Contraception and STD prevention are notoriously hard sells, but not when added pleasure is involved. Perhaps microbicide gel should go the way of Trojans' Her Pleasure condoms and use this added bonus as a marketing tool. Either way, I can definitely get behind a product that takes women's health and enjoyment into account, even if the latter was just a happy accident.

Also, does this remind anyone of that moment on Mad Men when Peggy tries out that vibrating weight loss belt?

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