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Could douching help to prevent HIV among gay men?

Scientists are now studying to find out how many gay and bisexual men douche before sex

Could douching help to prevent HIV among gay men?
Can douching help prevent HIV?

Douching with a special gel could help to prevent HIV among men who have sex with men, scientists have said.

A research group have said by using a ‘rectal microbicide’ while using an enema could be a new step in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

While it wouldn’t be a failsafe option, they say, it could be seen as a ‘new option for HIV prevention’.

Brandon Brown, assistant medicine professor at University of California, said as gay and bisexual men were far more likely to douche anyway, it only makes sense for them to include a gel that could make sex safer.

‘Unfortunately, little is known about rectal douching practices among men who have sex with men and trans women and the damage such practices may cause.’

While enemas are useful for feeling cleaner, they do have a risk. As they can cause trauma to the rectum, anal sex after douching could actually increase the risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Brown and his team examined 415 gay and bisexual men and 68 trans women in Lima, Peru. Participants completed a self-administrated interview on how and if they douche before sex.

It found 18% of participants had douched before having sex in the last six months, as published in Aids and Behavior.

‘We found that men who douched prior to sex did it primarily for hygiene and pleasure,’ Brown said. ‘We should capitalize on these reasons to increase this practice and eventually include a rectal microbicide for HIV prevention.’

He added: ‘The more we know about rectal douching practices, the better situated we will be for developing interventions with rectal microbicides.’

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