Is oral sex safe?

One of the most often asked questions regarding sex and HIV is “can I get HIV from oral sex without using a condom?”

The short answer is yes. Although a lot of sexual health experts put oral sex into the “safer sex” category, there is a degree of risk. Using condoms for oral sex is your safest bet.  With that said, if you’re not going to use a condom, the following are ways to reduce your risk even more: 

  • Don’t brush or floss your teeth for at least an hour before giving head. You can use a mouthwash, breath mint, or gum instead. This will keep the number of tears and cuts in our mouth to a minimum.
  • Try not to eat abrasive foods (like tortilla chips, French bread, pretzels, etc.) for the same reasons.
  • In general, it’s also a good idea to maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent the possibility of easy tears/cuts in the mouth. If your gums bleed when you brush, you need to step up your oral hygiene—talk to your dentist about what to do.  
  • Avoid getting semen in your mouth; semen contains active HIV. If you do get semen in your mouth, as the saying goes, “Swallow or spit, just don’t let it sit.” The longer semen in your mouth, the more potential for HIV to find an entry point into your body.
  • Avoid deep throating since this can cause abrasions in the throat. Pre-cum/semen can come into contact with these abrasions, creating an effective entry point for HIV infection.

For more information about oral sex and HIV, you can check out the following links: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/pdf/oralsex.pdf and http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Q9080.html

 

National suicide strategy includes LGBT populations

From the Washington Blade online:

A new strategy unveiled Monday aimed at reducing the suicide rate in the United States includes a section on the rate of suicide for LGBT people — saying they may be particularly at risk because of “minority stress” and “institutional discrimination” resulting from anti-gay laws on the books.

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, made public on World Suicide Prevention Day, was published by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin. Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and former Defense Secretary of Robert Gates launched the alliance in late 2010 in part to address the suicide rate among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning home.

The strategy details multiple goals for reducing suicide, such as integrating suicide prevention into health care policies and changing the way the public talks about suicide and suicide prevention. In addition to veterans, the study identifies particular groups that may face a higher suicide rate, such as individuals with mental and substance abuse disorders, individuals in justice or child welfare settings and LGBT people.

Andrew Lane, a gay member of the Action Alliance’s executive committee, said the strategy lays the groundwork to reduce the suicide rate among LGBT people.

“The 2012 NSSP represents a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to highlight the unique health needs of the LGBT community and ensure government responsiveness,” said Lane, who’s also executive director of the Johnson Family Foundation.

The strategy attributes the prevalence of suicide in the LGBT community to “minority stress” stemming from cultural stigma as well as “institutional discrimination” that comes from laws that deny benefits and protections for LGBT people that are provided to others.

Read the full article on the Washington Blade Website.