What does protection look like?
Protection and safe sex look different for every individual. We all know about condoms, but there are many techniques for reducing risk, and you should ask yourself, “what techniques work best for me”?
Just about the most effective method of preventing STD transmission and pregnancy: condoms! Condoms come in all different shapes and sizes (and flavors). Most people know about our classic friend, but many people have never learned the correct way to use them! Check out this short video below from Buzzfeed showing you how to wrap it before you tap it:
We also know that some individuals are averse to regular condoms. Maybe you can’t find ones that fit, or it just doesn’t have the right feel, so we’re here to present an alternative you might not know about: female condoms! These condoms are latex free, help prevent STDs and pregnancy, and can also help increase sexual pleasure! Planned Parenthood has some great additional information about female condoms for you here. Check out this video on how to use them!
Richmond City Health District offers both types of condoms for free! Stop by the front desk at 400 E. Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23219 to pick up a pack of them any time during regular business hours (8AM-5PM Mon-Fri, please call ahead at 804.482.5500 to ask about any schedule changes).
PrEP is an anti-HIV medication, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Taken daily, it can reduce the the risk of getting HIV from sex by up to 99%. Among those who inject drugs it can reduce the risk of getting HIV by more than 70%. A combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), sold under the name Truvada®, is approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who’s positive. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently. Check out our page here or this informational video below!
Richmond City Health District has a program with the ability to offer PrEP to eligible individuals for free. For more information on our program, check out the details here. For additional questions please contact Fatimah, our PrEP coordinator, at 804.205.3508 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communication is a huge part of any relationship, sexual or not. Talking about sex doesn’t have to be a big deal, and it gets easier with practice. You know about your own sexual health, and it’s important to talk to your partner about their sexual health as well: things like STD testing and prevention measures. Here are some tips to talk about safer sex with your partner:
- Use statements focused on yourself, with “I” – such, “I want us to take the necessary steps to protect each other,” instead of “you should really get on birth control”.
- Clearly state your expectations for sex, and what protective measure are necessary for you to feel comfortable having sex. Not comfortable? No sex.
- Use reinforcing and positive language that gets the point across that you are having this talk because you care about your partner and protecting them as well.
- Make sure that you are listening. Conversation is a two-way street where you must talk – and listen. Attempt to understand your partner’s points of views, and ask questions about each other.
- Try to control your partners opinions and thoughts. Coming off as confrontational or judgemental can cause the conversation to cease, and can come across to your partner as writing them off.
- Start the conversation right when you’re about to have sex. Talk about it before that moment happens.
- Force it. Find the right time and place to have a conversation. You can schedule a time to talk, or have spontaneous conversations in a setting where you are comfortable.
- Do anything you’re not comfortable with. Clearly state your expectations for sex, and understand your partner’s as well.
Check out this video from Planned Parenthood about initiating tough conversations with your partners:
Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and HPV. HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against some of the most common types of HPV. It is best to get all three doses (shots) before becoming sexually active. However, HPV vaccines are recommended for all teen girls and women through age 26 and all teen boys and men through age 21 who did not get the vaccines when they were younger. You should also get the vaccine for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger. Check out the video below to see why you should get the HPV vaccine. Richmond City Health District has an immunization clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with more details here. For more information, please call 804.482.5500.
Men Who Have Sex With Men
It is also recommended that men who have sex with men get vaccinations for hepatitis A, which can be spread via sexual activity. An estimated 10% of new hepatitis A cases and 20% of new hepatitis B cases occur in men who have sex with men. Hepatitis A outbreaks among men who have sex with men have been reported frequently. Cyclic outbreaks have occured in urban areas in the United States and can occur in the context of an outbreak in the larger community. The hepatitis A and B vaccines can be given separately or as a combination vaccine using a recommended schedule. Richmond City Health District has an immunization clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with more details here. For more information, please call 804.482.5500. Currently, hepatitis A vaccinations are offered for free to men who have sex with men who are at risk of getting the disease.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 get tested at least once for HIV, and anyone who is sexually active get screened for STDs every 3-to-6 months. DoingItRVA hosts a FREE evening clinic every Tuesday from 5:00-6:30 at 400 E. Cary Street where we screen for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HIV. If you can’t make our clinic, check out our partners here for more testing locations.