Nonoxynol-9 (or N-9) was created in the 1980’s as a spermicide—a method of contraception. The substance was also thought to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and it even killed HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) in test-tube studies. As a result, many gay and bisexual men who engaged in anal sex adopted the use of condoms and lubricants containing N-9 as a means to prevent HIV. Increased Risk for HIV Infection More recently, however, researchers have discovered N-9 can damage the lining cells of the rectum during anal sex, making a person more susceptible to contracting HIV.
What’s so troubling is that men who have sex with men are either unaware of this danger or don’t believe the danger actually exists. In fact, a study performed in San Francisco found that one quarter of respondents reported using lubricants containing N-9 despite repeated warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to not use N-9 when engaging in anal intercourse. What Can You Do? Don’t use lubricants, condoms, or any other product that contains N-9. If the package says “spermicidal lubricant” on the box avoid it! The best way to prevent HIV infection when engaging in anal intercourse is to use latex condoms and water-based lubricants. To learn more about N-9, you can go to this informative page on About.com.