Bringing Sexy Back: Women, HIV and Condoms

Condoms-different-colors-HIV Photo : Pederk / Getty Images / Via thinkstockphotos.com via Buzzfeed.com

Oral contraception seems to have always been a hot issue – with the whole crazy idea of women being able to control their bodies and such.

And while The Affordable Care Act has brought additional scrutiny to women’s reproductive rights, it has arguably improved women’s access to birth control – and save for some disappointing Supreme Court decisions (screw you Hobby Lobby).

So yay!  For those of us who don’t work for religious organizations that are exerting their morals and values on us Ladies, we have access to birth control with little to no out of pocket expenses!

I would, however, like to steer the conversation back our less respected friend, the condom.  Oral contraception protects against pregnancy, however, safe sex shouldn’t stop with the pill.  Condoms can protect against sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV.

I’m not sure anyone can honestly say that they absolutely love getting to that moment with a partner only to pause to tug a slimy piece of latex on.

I urge you to consider this:

According to the CDC, women ages 13 and older accounted for 20% of new HIV infections in 2013.

With 50,000 new infections each year, that equals 10,000 women.

I currently work with HIV affected individuals as a social worker; in this position, I am overwhelmed and surprised at the ongoing assumption is that HIV is related to gay men when in fact, HIV is a virus that has no mechanisms for discrimination.

In fact, as women, we have unique risk factors for contracting HIV that increases susceptibility.  For example, penetration during sexual activity increased the likelihood of tears in the vaginal and anal wall; without the use of a condom, the virus is then easily transmitted.

With that being said, I hope you take a few moments to appreciate the condom in all of it’s barrier-protective-ness and incorporate it in to your safer sex routine!    There are specialty condoms out there to fit all of your safe sex needs:  flavored (including cotton candy and mint!), large, small, non-latex, glow in the dark, – the possibilities are endless!

Hopefully I’ve inspired you with my short PSA.  Excited?  Motivated?  Why not try out these super cool and not at all awkward talking points for starting a conversation with your partner:

  • So we haven’t really talked about it, but can we agree that when the time comes, we’ll use condoms to keep each other safe?
  • I know we just met and we don’t know everything about each other, but you should know that practicing safer sex is really important to me. When is the last time you were tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
  • I got tested for HIV and other stuff the first time about a year ago, have you ever been tested?
  • I’ve never been tested for HIV and I’m kind of nervous to do it. Will you go with me?
  • I know we haven’t talked about this yet, but just so you know, I got tested for HIV last [week/month/whatever]. My test came back negative, and ever since I got the results I’ve committed to playing it safe. When was the last time you were tested?
  • So, when was the last time you were tested for HIV? How often do you get tested for HIV and other STDs? I was tested recently, but think we should probably go together to be on the safe side. What do you think?
  • I read something that said we should be getting tested for HIV at least annually, or even more often. How often do you get tested? Where do you get tested? Want to go together?
  • I saw this mobile HIV testing truck last week, and it made me realize we haven’t talked about HIV yet. When was the last time you were tested?
  • Before we take things to the next level, I think we should get tested for HIV. No matter the results, at least we’ll know how to keep each other safe and healthy.
  • I was listening to the radio today and they said that you can get your HIV test results in as little as 20 minutes. I’m thinking about going. Will you go with me?

 

Gieryn_Lily_Bio
Lily is a social worker, a mom, a wife who likes to eat apples and bananas, play peekaboo and will occasionally make it to work on time.