SEX AND SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES: HIV/AIDS.

Perhaps even more importantly, it helps to know that there is no way of spotting the person in the crowd most likely to be carrying an STD. It won’t necessarily be the most attractive or the most ugly person, not the best dressed or the sloppiest, it will have nothing to do with income or personality. Anyone who has vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex can catch an STD. Anyone. Clearly some sexual behaviors will put you at more risk than others but thinking you can predict the risk beyond doubt is naive.

Women who have sex with other women have traditionally thought that they were exempt from any safer sex messages. Now while these women are still statistically in what we call a low risk group for HIV/AIDS, there is real concern about a false sense of security. The reality is that some women who have sex with other women will be HIV positive, some will also have sex with men, and some will use intravenous drugs so there is the possibility of exposure to the virus. An HIV positive person can transmit the virus through cuts or ulcers in their mouth by oral/vaginal contact. Menstrual blood and vaginal secretions are also potentially infectious, so unprotected oral sex during a period, or unprotected hand and vaginal contact (when you have cuts, dermatitis, or broken skin around your nails) could transmit infection. The trouble is, until the research is conclusive and the risk is perceived to be significant, it’s going to be difficult to sell this safer sex message. The biggest risk people seem to perceive at the moment is choking on the dental dam mid-gasp. The prospect of using a condom to cover sex toys like vibrators or dildos is not such a problem. Using a sheet of rubber (like a condom cut lengthwise) or a dental dam for oral sex, or latex gloves for genital touching might be stretching the friendship at this stage. Still, there are some health researchers who are starting to recommend safer sex between women to prevent the whole range of STDs from HIV/AIDS to warts and herpes simplex. Of course, the same applies to male partners of women. Maybe the total body rubber suit is the only answer.

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