Friday, May 09, 2008

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Safer Sex.

The following is from this week's column, Savage Love by Dan Savage. The question the 16 year old gay guy asks is relevent for gay men at any age.

Savage Love
Sexpert Advice

I'm 16 and gay. I recently got into an argument with my parents over whether HIV is spread by saliva or if you can be infected during oral sex. I thought that you were safe kissing and that it's okay to have oral sex, but that you need to use condoms for anal sex. My parents disagree and I found mixed answers searching online. I trust you, though—what do you say?
Good Gay Boy

You trust me, GGB, but your parents probably wouldn't. So I'm going to step aside and let some HIV prevention pros have a crack at your questions. Think of this column as a sex-ed gangbang I've arranged just for you—but, um, don't describe it to your parents that way.

"To be exposed to HIV, you would have to come in contact with someone who is HIV-positive and a fluid—semen, vaginal secretions, blood—that can transmit HIV," says Krishna Stone, assistant director of community relations at Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York City. "And there would also need to be a point of entry—unprotected vaginal or anal sex without condoms," that would bring the virus into contact with mucous membranes that could absorb it.

Stone makes a great point: You can't be exposed to HIV unless you're having sex with someone who has HIV. The AIDS virus isn't fire and gay men aren't twigs; it doesn't matter how vigorously you rub us against each other, we're not going to suddenly burst into HIV. If you're having sex—safe sex—with someone who's HIV-negative like you, GGB, you have nothing to worry about on the HIV front. Well, except for your boyfriend's truthfulness and any changes to his HIV status since his last test—which is why you should be having safe sex regardless, even if you think you're both negative.

But let's say you're not with just one guy. Let's say you're running around having sex—safe sex—with random guys (not that I'm saying you should). Some of these guys are likely to be HIV-positive. So are you at risk of contracting HIV when you kiss poz guys?

"Kissing carries no risk of HIV transmission according to the Canadian AIDS Society's HIV transmission guidelines," says Rui Pires, gay men's community education coordinator for the AIDS Committee of Toronto, "[because] saliva doesn't transmit HIV."
So has anyone ever been infected via kissing?

"There has been a documented case of HIV transmitted through 'deep kissing,' [and the infection] occurred because both of those involved had current gum disease and had bleeding gums," says Beau Gratzer, director of HIV/STD prevention at Howard Brown in Chicago. "Generally speaking, blood must be visible in the saliva in order to pose a risk of HIV transmission."

So promise your parents, GGB, that there'll be no deep kissing after you and your boyfriend go get your wisdom teeth pulled together, okay?

What about oral sex? What kind of risks are there when you're blowing guys who could be positive?

"Oral sex is very low risk for transmitting HIV," says Hunter Hargraves, community initiatives coordinator at the STOP AIDS Project in San Francisco. Low risk does not mean no risk—some men have been infected giving head. "But even though oral sex is very low risk for HIV," adds Hargraves, "other STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can still be transmitted via oral sex," giving and receiving, "and having an STD increases the potential for HIV transmission."

What can you do to minimize the already low risk of contracting HIV when performing oral sex?
"HIV transmission is possible only if you have a cut or abrasion in your mouth or throat through which the virus can enter your bloodstream," says Pires. So don't go down on anyone if you have a cut or abrasion. To avoid creating one, "no flossing or brushing 45 minutes before you go down on somebody," says Hargraves.

You can also minimize your risks, says Howard Brown's Gratzer, "[by] not getting semen/come in your mouth, reducing your number of oral sex partners, and using a [condom] while engaging in oral sex."

I'd like to add to this list: Don't sleep with total sleazefags, don't be a total sleazefag yourself, and don't allow anyone to pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do.

Definitely words to the wise gay man compliments of Dan. He has the pulse on healthy gay sex. These do's and don't's point that the best way to a healthy sex life is by practicing safer sex, and using a condom. Use your imagination, some steamy foreplay, wrap yours and your partners love machine snugly into separate condoms, and have great sex. Dan says so. I say so, therefore, it must be true.


Leonard said...

Thanks Buff for posting this! I have to admit um, some of this I did not know and I actually feel a sense of relief now that I read this. ;) peace

Timmy said...

Thanks for posting this! This is a great perspective.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Sh@ney said...

As always you show great concern for your fellow gay men and I am so glad I get to read on subjects that matter to me personally.
Thank you for highlighting some of the danger's I did not know existed.
Your an Ace Buff!