Wednesday, January 03, 2007

We're at least a decade away from a reacharound machine

Mrs. Fesler, my junior high school English teacher, always touted the virtues of the "Golden Grabber," the name she bestowed upon any arresting opening sentence in an essay. I hope that she would be proud of the following:

If you really need some spare cash, you can volunteer to get fucked up the ass by a machine for precisely five minutes until a viscous vehicle for radioisotopes is ejaculated into your rectum; you must then allow endoscopic imaging and 360-degree SPECT/MRIs of your colorectal tract for the next 24 hours.

HIV is a problem. Condoms work pretty well. Trouble is, lots of folks don't use 'em, and plus, plenty of women in this coercive little world don't have much control over condom use. So the ideer is to develop an effective and cheap microbicide, allowing the fuckee to grease up the vagina or the anus (maybe even in secret), and thus to pork away with fewer worries.

But. Nobody really knew what properties were necessary for an effective microbicide. E.g., how far did it have to, you know, go up there? How long did it have to persist? Enter CH and colleagues, riding to the rescue.

The topic is fascinating and complex, and deserves far more respect than this giggly blog post. But whatever. So CH and colleagues test out microbicides and their performance against semen surrogates. Like I says, they get volunteers to simulate anal and vaginal sex for five minutes (tragically, the median duration of sex) with a fuckin' machine until a researcher presses the "ejaculate" button, spewing forth a gel laden with a particulate radionuclide complex. 24 hours of monitoring and imaging follows.

Anal sex is particularly tricky for microbicides, in part because the wall of the colon is only two cells thick, and in part because there's so much real estate to cover. (Incidentally, it's estimated that there are approximately equal numbers of "anal sex events" between heterosexual couples and gay couples; the frequencies kinda even out.) Among many interesting results, it turns out that within a few hours, the jazz can "migrate" six feet up the colon. And by the way, yes, taking a massive dump may be an inexpensive (if unreliable) means of post-exposure risk reduction.

Anyway. Sleep well tonight, knowing that people way smarter than us are still working on this problem, and marvel that they somehow manage to refrain from making juvenile jokes about it.