Journal Article

Condoms and condiments: Compatibility and safety of personal lubricants and their use in Africa

Previous research on the use of personal lubricants for sexual intercourse is limited and has primarily focused on condom compatibility and breakage, with only recent limited assessment of lubricant safety and possible epidemiologic implications. This article discusses the global evidence of lubricant compatibility with latex condoms and biological safety of lubricants, as well as documentation of lubricant use and current guidelines for HIV prevention programming in Africa. Data on lubricant compatibility with condoms are less available than commonly realized, and many lubricant products may not have been thoroughly tested for safety due to flexible regulatory environments. Recent laboratory and study findings from microbicides research also suggest that some water-based lubricants may have safety issues. Some African populations are using several types of lubricants, especially oil-based petroleum jellies, and receive little evidence-based guidance. More research is needed from the medical community to guide prevention programming.