Lube Safety

6/12/13 Press Release
More than 500 Endorsers Demand Answers on Lubricant Safety

The Top 10 things you need to know about IRMA’s lube work

1. We coordinate a Lube Safety Working Group. It includes 60 members, including researchers, advocates and policy-makers from 12 countries. As far as we know, that includes all researchers who have worked on rectal safety of lubes—but if you know of any that we’ve missed, let me know! The Lube Safety Working Group is coordinated by IRMA Secretary and Official Lube Guru Marc-André LeBlanc.

2. We conducted a global survey on rectal use of lube. IRMA launched a global web-based survey in 2007. The survey provided valuable information on lube use, preferences, and acceptability among nearly 9,000 men and women from over 100 countries, establishing a list of the most widely-used lubes. The overall survey results were described in our 2008 report (p32-40), and published in an article. Our colleagues from IRMA-América Latina y El Caribe (IRMA-ALC) did an analysis of the responses from that region. This was presented in a poster at the ISSTDR conference. There was also an analysis of the responses from women, presented as a poster at AIDS 2010 (attached). Finally, the analysis of the qualitative data was just presented in a poster at Microbicides 2012.

3. We produced key documents on lube safety. Here are the basic factsheet and more detailed Q&A, just in case. They are available in 7 languages on the IRMA materials page.

4. We host teleconferences to keep the membership up to date. Here is a link to some of the global webinars we’ve had on lube access and lube safety: IRMA's Teleconferences page. Check out the calls for the following dates by scrolling down on the webpage: 29 August 2011; 24 January 2011; 16 June 16 2010. Also, check out this link. This is a recording of a call on lube safety that Marc-André LeBlanc did for IRMA and MSMGF last year.

5. We have taken on lube access. Lube access was chosen as one of the top priorities coming out of last December’s Project ARM (Africa for Rectal Microbicides) meeting. The Global Lube Access Mobilisation (GLAM) and it’s tag line “And Lube” will help call attention to the general lack of lube access for people of all genders who have anal sex, particularly in developing countries. Working with key partners like amfAR, GLAM will access the current lube access situation in Africa (as a starting point), document case studies and lessons learned, develop factsheets, and of course advocate for safe, condom-compatible lubes for all. Those of you who will be in DC for AIDS2012 will have the opportunity to see some of GLAM’s first tangible activities, including a session in the Global Village. Make sure to get your hands on what will surely be the HOTTEST item at AIDS 2012: unbelievably gorgeous GLAM stickers. They’re pink! They’re blue! They’re sexy!

6. We have been gathering information on how lubes are regulated in various countries. We have been trying to get information from regulators in Peru, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Nigeria, South Africa and Australia. In some cases more successfully than others. We’ll provide an update in the coming weeks and months.

7. We will be reaching out to manufacturers soon. We will provide an update in the coming weeks and months.

8. We have been developing a research agenda. The Lube Safety Working Group has started to articulate key research objectives that could ultimately help us answer the questions: “Do lubricants used rectally increase, decrease or have no impact on the risk of acquiring HIV and/or rectal STIs? How do research findings translate into real world use and real world risk?”

9. We bring you the latest research. Results from some new exciting lube safety studies will be available very soon. One study has tested a range of glycerin-free lubes in the lab. One study has delved deeper into the possible association between lube use and rectal STIs. One study is testing lubes in monkey butts! IRMA will bring you all the latest information on these important studies, as they become available—and for the first two, that may be very soon!

If you’re still reading this long list, then you’re clearly the kind of lube-obsessed person we want recruit. Contact IRMA about joining the Lube Safety Working Group or helping out with GLAM or any other part of our lube-related work! E-mail

Quick Links

Click here for all blog posts on lubricants and lubricant safety.

Click here for IRMA teleconference materials (including slides and recordings) on lube safety.

Click here for IRMA's lube safety fact sheet and question/answer document in multiple languages.

IRMA convenes a Lube Safety Working Group, comprised of scientists, advocates, public health workers, and other interested individuals. If you are interested in joining our efforts, please send an email to

More Resources on Lube Safety

Microbicides 2012 Presentations:

Other Presentations:
Update on Lubricant Safety & Rectal Microbicide Research/Advocacy, presented by Jim Pickett, January 19, 2011, for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV prevention staff.

Recently Published Papers:

"Is Wetter Better? An Evaluation of Over-the-Counter Personal Lubricants for Safety and Anti-HIV-1 Activity", by Charlene Dezzutti,, November 2012, PLoS ONE 7(11): e48328. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.004832.

"The Slippery Slope: Lubricant Use and Rectal SexuallyTransmitted Infections: A Newly Identified Risk," by Pamina M. Gorbach, Robert E. Weiss, et. al.Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Volume 39, Number 1, January 2012.

"Identification of Personal Lubricants That Can Cause Rectal Epithelial Cell Damage and Enhance HIV Type 1 Replication in Vitro," by Othell Begay et. al., AIDS RESEARCH AND HUMAN RETROVIRUSES, Volume 27, Number 00, 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., DOI: 10.1089/aid.2010.0252

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