The only safe sex is with yourself,
but you can practice "Healthy Sex" with others.
Healthy Sex starts with being informed about STIs,
how they're passed, and their symptoms.
Use the information and videos below as guides to Healthy Sex.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
(STIs, also known as STDs)
STIs are infections that can transmitted be transmitted during sex. HIV is the most well-known STI, but there are many others out there as well.
STIs can increase the risk of getting or transmitting HIV.
STIs can also lead to serious illnesses if left untreated. It is important to get tested for STIs at least once a year, if not every 3-6 months.
Common STIs & How They are Passed to Partners
- HIV — body fluids
- Gonorrhea — body fluids
- Chlamydia — body fluids
- Herpes — skin-to-skin contact
- HPV/Genital Warts — skin-to-skin contact
- Vaccine available!
- Syphilis — skin-to-skin contact
- Hepatitis A — fecal matter (think rimming...)
- Vaccine available!
- Hepatitis B — body fluids
- Vaccine available!
- Hepatitis C — blood exchange
Some STIs can be treated and cured — such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, & hepatitis.
Other STIs can only be managed, not cured — such as herpes, HPV, & HIV.
Common STI Symptoms
- A drip or discharge from the penis
- Sores, bumps, or blisters near your penis, rectum, or mouth
- Burning and pain when you pee or have a bowel movement
- A need to pee more often than usual
- Itching around your sex organs
- Swelling in your groin area
- Swelling or redness in your throat
- Flu-like feelings, with fever, chills, and aches
Many men never show signs or symptoms when they have an STI
— that's why regular STI testing is so important!
Before having sex, talk with your sexual partners about their health, sexual history, and their STI and HIVtesting habits.
Communication is one of the keys to having healthy sex. It may not seem like the best foreplay, but it is an important way to protect your sexual health, especially with casual partners or Grindr "dates." Use
Avoid using language like "Are you clean?" and "ddf" ("drug & disease free").
That type of language can make someone feel they will be judged if they tell you they have or had an STI or are HIV[+]. Instead, try being direct and asking "Do you have any STIs that I should know about?" Choosing non-judgmental language can help guys feel more comfortable to be open and honest with you about their sexual health. Having an STI or HIV doesn't make a guy dirty or gross, but it is important to have a discussion about STIs and HIV with sexual partners so you can make informed choices for your personal sexual health.
When were they last tested for STIs and for HIV? Many men don't know that they have HIV or STIs until they get tested, which is why regular testing is so important. Has it been a while since they were tested for everything? How can they know they do not have an STI if they haven't been tested?
How many sexual partners have they had since they were tested for HIV & STIs?
Just like driving a car every day increases the chances of getting into a fender-bender compared to someone who rarely drives, having multiple sexual partners increases the chance of encountering and getting an STI.
How do they protect their sexual health when with other partners?
Do they use condoms regularly,some of the time, or not at all? Do they always talk to their partners about sexual health before having sex?
STI & HIV Prevention Tools
Condoms & Female Condoms
Condoms help prevent skin-to-skin contact. They also help prevent exposure to sexual fluids like cum, pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. Condoms help protect you from STIs and from HIV.
Dental Dams help prevent skin-to-skin contact. They are flat sheets of latex that are ideal for rimming, or for performing vaginal oral sex.
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis)
1 pill a day can prevent HIV! The catch — PrEP only protects you from HIV, not other STIs. PrEP is safe and it works!
PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis)
PEP is medication that can be taken within 72 hours to prevent getting HIV after a possible exposure to HIV.