(Blogmensgo, gay blog of December 5, 2018) This year's World AIDS Day, which has taken place on 1 December each year since 1988, was again the subject of a great deal of press and media coverage. Here is just a small selection with three topics: Health insurance reimbursement for condoms in France, possible reimbursement for PrEP, an extract from the last PlanetRomeo survey and a new approach to intimate hygiene for men.
Partial reimbursement of condoms in France
From 10 December 2018, and only with medical prescription, French statutory health insurance will reimburse up to 60% of the cost of condoms – but only for Majorelle's condoms, distributed under the Eden brand and sold in packs of 6, 12 or 24 pieces.
Points to be discussed still
Why only Majorelle and not Durex or Manix? On the one hand, the French Ministry of Health has reduced the regular selling prices, which serve as a reference for calculating the reimbursement amount. In addition, the law does not allow French health insurance companies to reimburse medical devices directly addressed to the general public.
Which goals for which audience? The main target group for partial reimbursement of condom costs are young people (especially 15- to 17-year-olds who are using condoms for the first time for prophylaxis and contraception) and new users. The official goal of the action is simple and very ambitious at the same time:
Zero new HIV infections and the elimination of STDs, two major public health problems, by 2030.
Of course, condoms will continue to be sold through vending machines, and the free distribution of condoms to gay meeting places will not stop either, simply because this is about an immediate need that excludes prior doctors’ visits.
Whether the reimbursement of condoms will fulfil its purpose will be seen in the future. At the same time, many people now demand free access to PrEP (Pre-Exposure-Prophylaxis), and some also want reimbursement of lubricants.
PlanetRomeo survey: results and concerns
A total of 69,551 gays took part in this year’s PlanetRomeo surveyon HIV and STD prophylaxis, safer sex and risk prevention.
Some surprising results…
88% of respondents feel “informed” or “well informed” about safer sex and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). More than half of gay respondents say they are “informed” or “well informed” about PrEP, 16% use it and 67.3% want it to be free. At least they are not used at the moment because of their costs, just under 20%.
The percentage of respondents using PrEP “regularly” is 22% in the UK, 21% in the Netherlands, 18% in Belgium and 17% in France, but unfortunately only 7% in Spain and India, and even less in Italy (4%).
… yet alarming
More than 50% of gay respondents reported that they had at least one unprotected sexual contact in the last 12 months. Considering that 88% are “informed” gays and 16% are PrEP users, this is quite a lot.
Has PrEP changed the numbers for unprotected sex? Before PrEP and after the introduction of PrEP, the values for unprotected sex are quite stable (around 60%). However, the number of those who “often” have unprotected sex has almost doubled and the proportion of those who always protect themselves has fallen by almost 10 points (from 29.7% to 20.3%).
On the other hand, four out of five gays say they use a condom when their partner asks them to – that's good news after all.
Results must be put into perspective
The results of this survey must of course be considered with caution, as it is a voluntary survey without sampling or statistical corrections. The survey is based on statements whose truth content is not verifiable: What exactly does “informed” mean? The credibility of the survey may be higher when it comes to hard facts (e.g. frequency of contacts etc.).
In any case, these figures indicate that both access to prevention and communication should be improved.
Intimate hygiene with wet wipes
A French manufacturer advertises its new product: wet wipes for cleaning the penis. The developers of L'Essuie-Fraise have shot a video clip for this purpose, which seems to target heterosexuals only:/p>
How can bad odors of the penis and the genital area as a whole be taken care of? Pharmacies and drugstores already offer a good selection of intimate hygiene products for women, but hardly anything for men.
Hence the idea of wet wipes for mens’ intimate areas. The product called “Essuie-Fraise” (or “Strawberry Wipes” in English; the website https://essuie-fraise.com is still under construction) is offered in the form of moist wipes with a “organic” and pH-neutral lotion for the intimate area of humans, without allergens, biodegradable and disposable in the toilet.
The product idea is financed via the crowdfunding platform Ulele. Before the cut-off date of 18 December 2018, the manufacturer will need financing of EUR 10,000 to supply pharmacies and drugstores beginning in April 2019.
14 day before the cut-off date: €5,500 still missing (screenshot)
How much is this going to cost? A retail price of 8.90 EUR per package with 10 wet cloths has been announced, available only in France – at least for a start.
Of course you can also get your best piece clean in the shower or at the sink – but maybe this is not always feasible. And strawberry-flavored condoms are not everyone’s cup of tea either… ☺
Frank-S / MensGo