Safer Sex

The point of safer sex is to be able to enjoy intimacy without giving or catching HIV, STD’s, or other infections. As men who like other guys, physical intimacy with other men is an important part of our lives. Enjoying this intimacy, while staying healthy, requires understanding what constitutes safer sex (and associated risks), determining your personal safer sex boundaries, and negotiating these boundaries with other men.

Gay men cuddling in bedThe term “safe sex” emerged in the early 1990’s in response to the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic among gay men. In short, safe sex was originally defined as avoiding the exchange of body fluids (i.e., ejaculate and blood) in order to reduce the chance of catching or giving HIV, as well as other STD’s.  Currently, the term “safer” sex is used because no sexual behavior is entirely safe.  However, by adopting safer sex habits, guys can significantly decrease their chances of becoming exposed to serious diseases.

Three Rules for Safer Sex

There are some websites dedicated to describing the finer points of risks associated with oral and anal sex as a top and bottom. But to make things simple, here are three safer sex rules to follow (source: Living Well, The Gay Man’s Essential Health Guide, Peter Shalit, MD, PhD):

  1. Sober sex is safer sex. It’s impossible to be safe when you are messed up on drugs or alcohol.
  2. Oral sex is safer sex. You can make it even make it safer by using a condom, avoiding ejaculation, and checking your partner’s penis for sores/rashes.
  3. Fucking with a condom is safer sex. Use a condom for all anal intercourse, every single time, whatever the situation.

Condoms

condom in pocketIf condoms are used properly, they are very effective at preventing disease transmission. Here is a link  from Planned Parenthood that shows how to use a condom.

If you need a supply of condoms, contact Christion Battey at AIDS Project Rhode. APRI has free condoms in “variety packs” so you can find one that feels good to you. For more information, contact Christion Battey at christion@aidsprojectri.org or 401-831-5522 ext. 3824

Knowing Your Partner’s HIV Status

queastionIf you are in a monogamous and trusting relationship and want to have sex without a condom, it’s important for both of you to know each other’s HIV status. AIDS Project Rhode Island offers free, anonymous, rapid HIV testing for couples. Click here to learn more.