The LGBT Health & Development Program

Youth Blog—Keeping It Safe(r) and Steamy

Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Justin in Featured, Life & HIV, Sexual Health, Youth Blog. No Comments

Two young men kissing and taking a selfie

Trent Kelley, “OUT in the OPEN: Picturing Pride, 2000s,” October 17, 2013

Keeping It Safe(r)

Whether you are HIV negative or HIV positive, you can have fulfilling sexual relationships. Healthy communication and respect go a long way towards rewarding and lasting relationships.

HIV is spread through contact with bodily fluid (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk) of someone who has HIV. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are spread sexually through body fluids or infected skin during anal, vaginal, or oral sex. If you are in a relationship where one partner is HIV positive and one is HIV negative, you might be exposing yourself or your partner to HIV or STIs. But there are things you can do to prevent spreading HIV or STIs!

If you have HIV, the most important thing for you to do is find a doctor. You might need insurance to see a doctor, but some will see you without insurance. Check your local HIV service organization, such as Center on Halsted in Chicago, for referrals for these types of places.  Your doctor will monitor your viral load (VL) and CD4 count. Knowing your VL and CD4 counts not only helps monitor your health, but helps protect your sex partner. People who have undetectable or low viral loads are less likely to give their sex partners HIV [1]. Your doctor will also order HIV medications for you to take. Taking your medications as directed lowers viral load, making it harder for HIV to be passed on.

If you are HIV negative, consider if PrEP or PEP are right for you. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is taking one pill of an anti-HIV medication daily to help lower your risk. PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is taking a pill for one month after having high risk sex, such as vaginal or anal sex without a condom. Have a talk with your doctor about whether either of these is right for you.  Getting tested for HIV and other STIs will help protect you and your partner.

Female identified couple kissing

Philippe Leroyer, “Lesbian & Gay Pride (010)” June 25, 2011

Keeping It Steamy

Talking with your partner about HIV and STIs before sex will help you make good choices to keep each other happy and healthy. Honesty and openness will show that you care and respect your partner enough to confide in them. Here is some information on sex acts and how risky they are:

High Risk

  • Bottoming (receptive anal sex) without a condom is the highest risk behavior [2].
  • Topping (insertive anal sex) without a condom
  • Vaginal sex without a condom

Medium Risk

  • Oral sex is a safer option, but is more risky for STIs then HIV.
  • Rimming:  A dental dam or plastic wrap will help lower risk

No Risk

  • French Kissing
  • Mutual Masturbation
  • Role Play
  • Dry humping/grinding
  • Sex Toys (using Male or Female condoms if sharing)
  • Erotic massage

Keep an open mind regarding what your partner likes and is comfortable with. Communication is key, and protecting each other is what this is all about. Talking about it will make both of you feel comfortable enough to share what is in your heart and help the relationship grow.

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[1] US Dept. of Health and Human Services. Viral Load. (2009, August 6). Retrieved from

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/AIDS. (2014, September 11). Retrieved from

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