When engaging in safe sexual behavior, the needs of gay men really
aren't that much different from the needs of heterosexuals. It all
comes down to getting educated, getting tested, and getting protected.
[ Please note: Some sources contain explicit material (rough language
or graphics). In these instances, you will not be able to click to go
directly to the source, as Google answers policy prohibits direct
links to such material. You'll need to copy and paste or type the URL
into your browswer manually, and add the http://www. bits. ]
-- Know your partner and practice monogamy! Casual sex sounds like
great fun, but the fact is, it's a dangerous game to play. Is your
partner someone you've had a long term relationship with? Do you know
his sexual history? Has he been tested for HIV and STDs? (It's
becoming common practice for people to obtain letters from their
physicians or clinicians, verifying that they've been tested and the
results are clean.) Talk, talk, talk!
"* Partners should care about each other and be interested in one
another's pleasure, comfort, and health.
* Be open. Let your partner know your health concerns and sexual
health history, and encourage your partner to be open, too.
* Be direct. Talk about your sexual needs and expectations.
* Be persistent. Don't let your partner remain silent on these issues."
Five Steps to a Healthier Sex Life
The New Mexico AIDS InfoNet advises:
"Safe activities have no risk for spreading HIV. Abstinence (never
having sex) is totally safe. Sex with just one partner is safe as long
as neither one of you is infected and if neither one of you ever has
sex or shares needles (see Fact Sheet 154) with anyone else.
Fantasy, masturbation or hand jobs (where you keep your fluids to
yourself), sexy talk, and non-sexual massage are also safe. These
activities avoid contact with blood or sexual fluids, so there is no
risk of transmitting HIV.
To be safe, assume that your sex partners are infected with HIV. You
can't tell if people are infected by how they look. They could be
lying if they tell you they are not infected, especially if they want
to have sex with you. Some people got HIV from their steady partners
who were unfaithful "just once." "
-- Of course, your partner isn't the only one who should be tested.
It's absolutely imperative that BOTH partners get tested for HIV and
STDs. Should either partner exhibit symptoms of an STD after they've
already been tested, *both partners should be tested again*. The
sooner an STD is discovered, the sooner it can be treated:
Sexually Transmitted Infections: The Facts
STIs: A Guide for Gay and Bisexual Men [ explicit material ]
If you think you or your partner has been exposed to HIV, get tested:
"If you become infected with HIV, it usually takes between three weeks
and two months for your immune system to produce antibodies to HIV. If
you think you were exposed to HIV, you should wait for two months
before being tested. You can also test right away and then again after
two or three months. During this "window period" an antibody test will
give a negative result, but you can transmit the virus to others if
you are infected.
About 5% of people take longer than two months to produce antibodies.
A confirming test six months after exposure is a good idea."
When Should I Get Tested?
"The current HIV tests detect the presence of HIV antibody. HIV
antibody is your body's response to the presence of HIV virus. In most
persons it takes a few weeks to develop antibodies that are detectable
by current tests. 95% of people develop antibodies within 3 months
after being infected. It is recommended that people take a second test
in 6 months, because 99% of those infected will develop antibodies
within 6 months. A positive test is positive no matter when the test
was. A negative test becomes more and more a true and accurate result
the longer after the possible exposure."
How often should I get tested if I'm sexually active?
-- Protect yourself! Always, always, always use a condom (or
femidom!) for sexual intercourse or fellatio, and always, always,
always use gloves or finger cots (tiny latex sheaths that look like
mini-condoms) for finger play. If you engage in analinugus, always,
always, always use a dental dam:
"Most sexual activity carries some risk of spreading HIV. To reduce
the risk, make it more difficult for blood or sexual fluid to get into
Be aware of your body and your partner's. Cuts, sores, or bleeding
gums increase the risk of spreading HIV. Rough physical activity also
increases the risk. Even small injuries give HIV a way to get into the
Use a barrier to prevent contact with blood or sexual fluid. Remember
that the body's natural barrier is the skin. If you don't have any
cuts or sores, your skin will protect you against infection. However,
in rare cases HIV can get into the body through healthy mucous
membranes. The risk of infection is much higher if the membranes are
The most common artificial barrier is a condom for men. You can also
use a female condom to protect the vagina or rectum during
intercourse. Fact Sheet 153 has more information on condoms.
Lubricants can increase sexual stimulation. They also reduce the
chance that condoms or other barriers will break. Oil-based lubricants
like Vaseline, oils, or creams can damage condoms and other latex
barriers. Be sure to use water-based lubricants.
Oral sex has some risk of transmitting HIV, especially if sexual
fluids get in the mouth and if there are bleeding gums or sores in the
mouth. Pieces of latex or plastic wrap over the vagina, or condoms
over the penis, can be used as barriers during oral sex. Condoms
without lubricants are best for oral sex. Most lubricants taste
"Barebacking carries various risks of STD transmission even without
ejaculation -- herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis infections
can all be transmitted without any cum present. HIV has been isolated
from pre-cum and could theoretically be transmitted even without full
ejaculation. Of course, the risk of transmitting HIV without
ejaculation is definitely lower than with ejaculation, but there is
still some risk involved."
How safe is barebacking if the partner withdraws before ejaculating?
It's very important to ensure that you're using condoms properly -
condoms do occasionally break, and that's usually because they've been
Some things to keep in mind when using condoms:
-- DON'T use lambskin. They feel nice, but they're highly permeable
and don't do a thing to prevent the transmission of HIV or STDs. Use
-- NEVER store condoms in a warm place (like the glove compartment of
your car, or your wallet). Heat causes the latex to break down,
making the condom more likely to break.
-- NEVER use expired condoms. Yep, condoms have expiration dates!
FDA approved latex condoms are typically usable for 3 - 5 years after
their manufacture. Check the date on the box - if they've "gone
over", throw them out and buy new ones.
-- NEVER use condoms whose packaging is damaged. If the wrapper looks
hard done by, the condom probably isn't in good shape either. Throw
it out and get a new one.
-- NEVER use oil based lubricants with latex condoms. Oil based
products like massage oils and lotions will cause the latex to break
down, increasing the likelihood that they will break. Use only water
based lubricants like KY, Wet, Probe or Astroglide.
-- NEVER try to re-use a condom.
-- NEVER "double bag". Although it was previously thought that using
two condoms at once would offer extra protection against HIV and STDs,
it's now thought that the increased friction makes one or both condoms
more likely to break:
"There is no evidence that wearing two condoms is more effective than
wearing one, and in fact, there is some hearsay evidence that the
friction of the two condoms rubbing together can cause them to break,
making you more susceptible to HIV and other STDs."
Would wearing two condoms during sex decrease my chances of getting HIV?
-- ALWAYS put a condom on BEFORE you get started! No skin to skin
contact until you're protected - for your sake and your partner's.
Be certain to use the condom properly:
-- Condoms can only be used on a fully erect penis. If you're not
quite ready, don't try to put it on just yet - the condom could become
constricting and prone to breakage.
-- Squeeze the tip of the condom. This is to eliminate air bubbles as
you unroll it onto an erect penis. Leaving the tip empty helps reduce
the chance of breakage and allows room for the ejaculation fluid.
-- Unroll the condom fully, to base of penis, if possible. The proper
fit is important and there are a lot of different styles available.
-- After intercourse, withdraw while the penis is still erect, and
hold onto the base of the condom to prevent contents from spilling.
Wrap it in tissue and throw it in the wastebasket. NEVER flush a
condom, it will clog up the plumbing.
-- Try to avoid condoms that have been lubricated with Nonoxynol-9.
While it was previously believed that N-9 could help stop the
transmission of HIV, current research indicates that not only is this
not the case, but N-9 can cause irritation of the thin anal membranes,
which can lead to tears. (Of course, if the only condoms available
are those with N-9, use them! Never forgo a condom!):
?Although laboratory studies show that N-9 kills HIV in test tubes,
available data on the efficacy and safety of N-9 spermicide to prevent
sexual transmission of HIV in real life situations are inconclusive and
inconsistent. For this reason, CDC does not recommend the use of N-9
alone to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. CDC recommends the use
of male latex condoms, with or without spermicide. Nonoxynol-9 has been
shown to provide some protection against two bacterial STDs, gonorrhea
Nonoxynol-9: No Good for HIV Prevention
?The latest research, however, confirms that N-9 does not help prevent
HIV, and may actually increase the risk of HIV transmission by
irritating sensitive rectal tissues.
"Nonoxynol 9 is a spermicide," according to Christopher E. Harris, MD,
President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, in a statement
issued on September 26, 2002. "At one time it was thought that the
ingredient might offer some protection against HIV. It does not.
Recent research indicates that using N-9 rectally might cause the thin
layers of cells that line the rectum to become inflamed, possibly
enhancing the risk of HIV transmission, especially when multiple sex
partners are involved."
WARNING: Nonoxynol-9 Increases HIV Risk for Gay and Bisexual Men
Condom Tutorial [ explicit material ]
filchyboysafersex [ explicit material ]
Just Say Yes to Safe Sex [ explicit material ]
Condoms Do Make A Difference [ explicit material ]
The Bare Facts About Condoms
Some gay men have found that they prefer to use Femidoms (Reality
Female Condom) for sex:
"Femidom hasn't undergone any specific scientific testing to determine
its suitability, but currently, there is no reason to believe that
Femidoms should be any less reliable than stronger condoms. It is
worth remembering that there is not a standard for any condom for anal
sex, and that stronger condoms are advised because gay men find that
they break less often. In fact, initial feedback shows that Femidoms
are probably more reliable. It is up to you to decide whether to try
Femidoms before any large scale studies have taken place."
Femidoms and Gay Men [ explicit material ]
If a condom breaks and you're not 100% sure of your partner's HIV
status, hie thee to the nearest clinic or your physician's office
within 72 hours for Post Exposure Prevention:
"PEP is a 28-day cycle of drug treatment believed to be effective in
preventing an HIV negative person from becoming positive after
exposure to HIV. At City Clinic, we offer testing, counseling and
prescription for PEP medication within 72 hours of a possible exposure
Once you arrive at the clinic, you will meet with a clinician to
discuss available medications, be provided counseling with a trained
Health Worker, have blood drawn for HIV and STD tests, and receive a
schedule for follow-up appointments at 1 month, 3 months and 6
Post-Exposure Prevention (PEP)
For more safer sex information:
The Concise Guide to Safer Sex
The Body: Ask the Experts about Safe Sex, Prevention and Transmission
Safe Sex and Prevention: General Prevention Issues
Ask Dr. Klausner
Safer Sex @ Condomania
Gay Sex: Staying Safe
How To Have Safer Sex [ explicit material ]
The Trojan Information Center
I hope you've found this information helpful! If you require further
assistance, please just ask for clarification. I'll be glad to help.
Search terms: [ "safe sex" ], [ "safer sex"], [ "safe sex" "gay men"
], and ten years as a Planned Parenthood volunteer (sex ed counseling
can be fun!)