SAFE SEX / STI INFORMATION
IS AN STI?
bacterial, protozoan, viral, or fungal disease transmitted primarily through
unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Many STIs have no symptoms
and can be unknowingly transmitted to others. Some consequences of some
untreated STIs include: precancerous changes in cervical cells, infertility
in men and women, and death. Bacterial STIs are curable with early
detection, while viral STIs are only symptomatically treatable.
CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
you are sexually active, help to protect yourself against STIs!
Practicing safer sex can help to reduce your risk of contracting STIs,
including HIV. Safer sex strategies avoid the exchange of body fluids,
skin to skin, and mucous membrane contact which can spread STIs, including
HIV. Follow these guidelines to help protect yourself against STIs:
allow any of your partner's body fluids to enter your body.
These fluids can enter through any opening: the vagina, anus, mouth,
and any cut or open sore.
a barrier method every time you have sexual contact. Use a
latex condom with a water based lubricant for vaginal-penile, anal-penile,
or oral-penile sex. For vaginal-oral or anal-oral sex, use a latex
dental dam to help reduce risk.
use water-based lubricants with a latex condom. Oil-based
lubricants like hand creams, massage oils, Vaseline, etc. can cause
a latex condom to leak or break.
share dildos or other sex toys. Keep your toys clean
and don't share them with others. If you absolutely must share-use
latex condoms on shared dildos and vibrators.
have sex while you're drunk or high. When intoxicated,
many people abandon the safer sex practices they ordinarily use when
sober, putting them at greater risk for unwanted sex and sexually
transmitted diseases (STIs), including HIV.
the potential limitations of condoms. While condoms
can significantly reduce risk of STI (especially HIV) transmission,
it is important to understand their potential limitations. Condoms
and other barrier methods may only be partially effective against
certain STIs that are transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact (e.g.,
herpes simplex virus, human papilloma virus). When blisters
or lesions that are symptomatic of these STIs are not covered by a
condom and are in direct skin-to-skin contact with another person,
viral shedding-transmission of the virus-can occur. Only total
absence of any touching of infected tissue is 100% effective in preventing
I GET TESTED?
individuals are susceptible to the same health problems as heterosexual
individuals. Many women mistakenly believe that just because
their partner is a woman, they are immune from certain STIs and other
gynecological problems. Although lesbians are at a lowered risk
for certain STIs including HIV, they are still at risk! Moreover,
if untreated, infections can develop into more serious problems such as
cervical cancer, damaged reproductive organs, and infertility. Men
who have unsafe sex with men are especially susceptible to contracting
STIs including HIV-unprotected penile-anal intercourse is a major risk
factor for HIV. However, it has been found that LBGT people are less likely
to seek STI testing, treatment, and other medical care than heterosexual
people out of fear of homophobia among providers; this may lead to inadequate
care. It is important to note that there are LBGT-friendly health
care providers and STI testing centers in the area, including MIT Medical.
There are a number of sites off campus that offer anonymous HIV testing.
For a listing of those sites, call the Health
Education Service (617-253-1316) or visit MedSTOP (W20-540A).
Costs for tests and length of time to receive results vary by site.
The difference between anonymous and confidential testing is that in
anonymous testing the test site never records the patient's name or
any other identifying means; in confidential testing, the patient's
name is recorded with test information.