We can all likely recall who our sexual education/health class teacher was, what the classroom setting was, who we sat next to and the curriculum we were taught. Oh, and let’s not forget the videos which ranged from silly to seriously graphic. Do you remember the photos of the infections and diseases? Of course you do! Nobody can erase those images that were burned into our brains. What about the day you had to put a condom on a banana?
My point is, we remember and can recall so many detailed bits of information from our sex ed/health classes. My question is what are we doing today, in our adult lives to reflect those teachings and to protect ourselves and our partners from STI’s, STD’s, HIV and other health complications spread through sexual intercourse?
I talk a lot about the emotional aspect of sexual relationships and maintaining your mental/emotional health when it comes to your sex life. I want you to know that I care just as deeply about the physical aspect of sexual relationships and helping you to maintain your physical health while being sexually active as well.
Are you aware that there is a prescription medication available today for the prevention of HIV? I am speaking specifically of Truvada. Truvada is approved as a daily use for PrEP, which is described on hiv.gov, as “Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) and is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected.” Truvada is a daily medication used for HIV negative people who are at high risk for contracting HIV-whether from having an HIV positive partner(s), using injectable drugs (sharing needles), gay and bisexual men having regular anal sex (particularly without the use of condoms), women in a relationship with a bisexual man, HIV negative persons who have had an STD within 6 months and who are having unprotected sex (particularly anal sex) and heterosexual people who do not use condoms regularly or at all and are not aware of the HIV status of those they share sexual encounters with. According to HIV.gov, “Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%. Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods.”
Prevention is key! I discovered while perusing the information on hiv.gov, that at the end of 2016, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV. 21% of those cases were children under the age of 15. Sadly, only 70% of people know they are HIV positive. That is a scary 30% of people (11 million individuals) you and I might be sexually active with, that have no idea they are positive and putting us at risk. This is why I am regularly tested and any partners I enjoy sex with must be tested and show me their results before the agreement is made to be sexually active with them. This is why I am going to talk to my Doctor about starting Truvada. I am a sexually active person, who has many partners, including bisexual men, and though I use condoms, I want to know that I am doing my part to fully protect myself as well as those partners I am with.
According to HIV.gov, “1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2016, bringing the total number of people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic to 35.0 million.”
Let’s change these numbers. We can do our part. We can protect ourselves, we can have discussions with peers and family members and partners and give them the knowledge of prevention methods such as Truvada, condoms, sexual health and well-being.
The American Sexual Health Association (http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/prevention-tips/) has 7 prevention tips to avoid contracting STD’s/STI’s. 1. Abstinence 2. Mutual monogamy 3. Communication 4. Get tested 5. Low risk and high risk activities 6. Barriers (such as condoms) 7. Avoid alcohol and recreational use (as these can alter decision making and lead to unprotected sex).
According to the CDC, there are an estimated number of 20 million new cases of STD’s in the United States each year. These numbers are outrageous and are preventable. While prevention is key, it may be too late for some. If you are aware that you do have an STI or STD or even that you are HIV positive, you can take precautions and prevent spreading it to partners you are sexually active with. For example, Webmd.com suggests to prevent giving an STD to someone else:
Stop having sex until you see a doctor and are treated.
Follow your doctor's instructions for treatment.
Use condoms whenever you have sex, especially with new partners.
Don't resume having sex unless your doctor says it's OK.
Return to your doctor to get rechecked.
Be sure your sex partner or partners also are treated.
Let’s stay sexy, but always stay sexually healthy. Communicate with your partners, get tested regularly, consider the HPV vaccine or starting Truvada if you believe you are at high risk. Take care of yourself and those you share your sexual experiences with.
Get Your Healthy Sexy On,