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How To Prevent Transmission of HIV and Other STDs

How To Prevent Transmission of HIV and other STDs During Sex

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Almost all sexual acts involve some degree of risk of transmitting HIV and other STDs to someone else. The degree of risk varies with the act.

For example, safer sex activities include closed mouth kissing and mutual masturbation. There is negligible risk if you perform fellatio (a "blow job"). There is low risk if you have intercourse with an unbroken, properly applied, latex or polyurethane condom for men. It is unsafe to receive shared sex toys without a condom or disinfection.

To prevent transmitting HIV and other STDs during sex, take the time to study the contents of our chart which describes the risk, if any, involved with each sexual activity and shows where various activities are on the continuum between Safe and Unsafe. Decide for yourself what risks you are willing, and not willing, to take. To see the chart, click on: Sexual Activities: Level Of Risk Of HIV and Other STDs Transmission. 

If something unexpected comes up, keep in mind the basic rule: Any sexual practice that does not let a person's semen, blood, or vaginal fluids get into someone else's body through the anus, rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth is generally considered "safer" sex.

For your own safety, and the well being of the person or people with whom you have sex, it is advisable to make it an unbreakable rule to only engage in safer sex activities all the time. This is particularly true when alcohol and/or drugs are involved. Being high is no excuse.

It may help to think in terms of risk and reward. Just about all life's activities have some risk involved. Without consciously thinking, you're always weighing the risk against the possible reward. Bring that thinking to the fore when it comes to sex.

It can be difficult to resist strong desires that surface in the heat of the moment, particularly if alcohol or drugs are involved. Drugs and alcohol have been known to impair judgment and to break down inhibitions.

If you are HIV positive, keep in mind that by engaging in unsafe sex you are literally putting another person's or your own life at risk simply for a few moments of pleasure. Also keep in mind that you could possibly be charged for a criminal act that could land you in jail for a very long time for knowingly infecting someone else.

If despite everything you know, you make a mistake: Don't beat yourself up, and don't use it as an excuse to stop engaging in safer sex. Use it as a call to do better next time - and the time after that - and the time after that.

It is easier to practice safer sex if you discuss the subject with a partner before having sex. It can help to rehearse what to say and not say in different circumstances.

For information about condoms, dental dams/plastic wraps, and female condoms, including how to use them correctly, see the articles linked to in To Learn More below.

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