Posted by Lucile Scott, November 7, 2014
In October, the Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights - Ghana (CEPEHRG) released a series of videos to educate gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and transgender individuals (collectively, GMT) about the importance of using non-oil-based lube along with a condom every time they have sex as part of the GLAM (Global Lube Access Mobilization) project. GLAM is sponsored by amfAR, AVAC, COC Netherlands, and International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA) and funds innovative projects that promote better access to safe, affordable, condom-compatible lubricant in sub-Saharan Africa.
A CEPEHRG peer educator performs outreach about the importance of condom-compatible lube. Using condom-compatible, water-based lubricant during anal sex prevents condom breakage and rectal inflammation that can increase risk of contracting HIV. However, despite the fact that condom-compatible lube is an essential part of safer sex, access to it remains scarce in most parts of the world. In one study conducted by researchers at John Hopkins University, only 25% of MSM surveyed in Botswana, Malawi, and Namibia used water-based lube during intercourse.
Lack of knowledge about the importance of using condom-compatible lube is one barrier to improving access to it. High cost is also a major impediment, and CEPEHRG hopes that the videos will not only increase awareness among GMT in Ghana, but also amp up advocacy efforts to improve access to free or affordable lube. The HIV rate among MSM in Ghana is approximately 17.5%, compared to 1.4% among the general population.
“Apart from CEPEHRG, most of the sexual health organizations in Ghana distribute only condoms—no lubricant, so most gay men resort to non-condom compatible, oil-based lubricants if they are out of the water-based lubricants they get from CEPEHRG and can’t afford the expensive KY jelly at the Ghanaian pharmacies,” says CEPEHRG’s Joseph Ochill.
CEPEHRG was the recipient of a 2014 GLAM grant. For more information on how to become a 2015 GLAM grantee, check www.amfar.org/gmt in March. You can also download The GLAM Toolkit here and start advocating for increased lube access in your area today.