Protecting Against HIV&AIDS: Sexual Behaviour Tips

There are several methods of preventing and reducing the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS. In order to decrease the risk of contracting the virus, it is important to understand how the virus is spread. It is vital that both males and females practice safe sex in order to protect themselves and their partners from becoming infected with the virus.

Since HIV is most often transmitted through unprotected sex, eliminating sexual contact altogether is the best method of ensuring that one is not exposed to HIV. Abstinence may however be neither desirable nor practicable for many people. This is something that each person should decide for themselves. It should nonetheless remain an option, as some people may feel that even limited periods of abstinence may be the best choice under certain circumstances.

Furthermore, sexual contact with many persons increases the probability of coming into contact with an HIV-infected partner. One of the most effective ways to reduce one’s risk is to limit the number of sexual partners with whom one engages in intimate sexual relations. While limiting the number of partners one has sexual relations with does reduce the risk of being exposed to HIV or AIDS, there is always the possibility that the one person you engage in a sexual relationship with is infected with the virus. Therefore the most effective method of ensuring that you remain HIV negative is either abstinence or the rigorous use of condoms and other methods of protection when engaging in sexual relations i.

What are some different methods of protection that people should use in order to protect themselves against HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

Before engaging in sexual relations, it is crucial that there exist some sort of discussion about condom use. Acquiring the skills to negotiate condom use is vital to practicing safe sex. There exist a variety of different methods devised for men and women to make sure that they and their partner remain safe during sexual intercourse.

Male Condom: Male condoms are an effective way to protect against HIV and STDs. They are made of a thin sheath that is worn over the man’s penis during sexual intercourse. The condom collects the sperm so that they are not released into a woman’s vagina. Condoms are made out of various materials including latex, rubber, plastic polyurethane and animal tissue amongst other materials. They are also available in a variety of sizes, colors, styles, and thicknesses. Latex condoms have been estimated to be 95% effective at preventing HIV infection when used properly. Though the use of condoms is one of the most effective and reliable way to protect against HIV and STDs, the 5% condom failure is related to methods of use. Condoms can sometimes fail for a variety of reasons, including failure to use them consistently, failure to use them properly, condom breakage, and condom slippage. Therefore it is crucial to use condoms carefully and effectively in order to ensure that they provide maximum protection ii.

Female condoms: The female condom is an approved method of contraception and HIV prevention. It is made of two polyurethane rings and a loose-fitting polyurethane sheath, make in one size that fits all. It is inserted into the vagina and then removed after intercourse and thrown away. The female condom is more effective than the male condom because it prevents leakage according to laboratory tests. The female condom is also beneficial because it’s a female controlled method of HIV and pregnancy prevention. It also gives women the opportunity to share the responsibility of the condoms with their partner. A woman may be able to use the female condom if her partner refuses or dislikes using the male condom. Another benefit is that the female condom can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse in order to not interfere with movement iii.

Dental Dams: In order to practice safe sex, dental dams can be used to protect from STD and HIV infection. Dental dams are placed over the labia and genitalia, or over the anal area in order to protect during cunnilingus (oral vaginal sex) and anilingus (oral-anal sex) iv. These latex squares can be purchased at various locations, including drugstores (they are available in different flavors) and at other condom specializing stores as well. The efficiency of these methods has not been studied.

Contraception: There are several methods of contraception available to women who are sexually active and fertile (physically able to become pregnant). Spermicides, male condoms, female condoms, contraceptive sponges, diaphragms, cervical caps and other methods are available that aim to prevent HIV infection and pregnancy. Unfortunately, the majority of the responsibility of birth control methods still rests with women, while ideally this should involve the man as well given that the responsibility of pregnancy and childrearing falls to both parents equally v.

What are some facts and myths about condom use?

Myth: Condoms cause a reduction in pleasure.

Fact: Condoms can be made more comfortable by using water-based lubricant inside and outside the condom. Individuals may also increase sexual pleasure by spending more intimate time caressing, kissing, and romancing. Condoms can also prevent premature ejaculation vi.

Myth: Condoms cause pain during sex.

Fact: If condoms are used with enough lubrication, they should never cause pain during intercourse. Painful sex often results from dryness. Increasing foreplay and/or using water based lubrication can also help eliminate pain. If this doesn’t work, the person should be tested for possible allergies to latex or infections vii.

Myth: Condoms sometimes slip off.

Fact: When condoms are used properly they will never slip off. It is crucial to discuss proper condom use with your partner and also make sure that they are using the appropriate size of condom for them viii.

Myth: Condoms have small enough holes to let HIV and STDs through.

Fact: False, latex and polyurethane condoms are an effective barrier against most STDs, including HIV ix.

Myth: Condoms are costly or unavailable or buying them is embarrassing.

Fact: There are many clinics, youth services, and hospitals etc. that provide condoms free of charge. Condoms can also be purchased from vending machines to avoid embarrassment x.

References: 
i http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/InSite?page=kb-07-02-02#S4.1X
ii http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/InSite?page=kb-07-02-02#S4.1X
iii http://www.avert.org/femcond.htm
iv http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/InSite?page=kb-07-02-02#S4.1X
v http://www.medicinenet.com/barrier_methods_of_birth_control/article.htm
vi http://www.cfsh.ca/ppfc/media/SRH_Eng.pdf
vii http://www.cfsh.ca/ppfc/media/SRH_Eng.pdf
viii http://www.cfsh.ca/ppfc/media/SRH_Eng.pdf
ix http://www.cfsh.ca/ppfc/media/SRH_Eng.pdf
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