Young. Proud. Safe. A Safer Sex Guide for Young Gay and Bisexual Men.
Being young can be an exciting time: meeting new people, doing new things, having fun. But for gay and bisexual men, being young can sometimes be complicated. This is the time of our lives when many of us realise we're gay or bisexual. Unfortunately, most of us haven't been very well prepared for this. So, sometimes it takes time to recognise that being gay or bisexual is a good thing. And it can be tough to find acceptance and understanding from the people we care about. That's why "coming out" can be scary - we don't know how friends or family will react. It's important to know that coming out is a process that happens in different ways for different people. It's up to each of us to decide to whom we come out and when we feel comfortable enough to do it. If you are thinking about coming out there are people and organizations that can offer help and support (see the list at the end of this brochure).
Many of us come out in another way -- into the community in which we start to become sexually active with other guys. This can be both exciting and scary. Most of us have heard about HIV and AIDS. But we don't have to be scared. There's lots we can do to have sex safely. We just need to know how to protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) -- including HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS.
You might believe that because you are young, or because you are having sex with others who are young, that you don't need to think about HIV or AIDS. In fact, younger gay and bisexual men are becoming infected with HIV. By thinking about HIV/AIDS, you can learn to protect yourself.
Maybe you've heard about these new drugs for people with HIV. While they are helping many people with HIV/AIDS live longer, they often have really bad side effects. And they are not a cure for AIDS.
HIV is the virus that can lead to AIDS. HIV attacks the body's immune system (the natural defence mechanism against disease), gradually weakening it over time. People with HIV have the virus in their blood, semen (cum), and vaginal fluids. In order for you to become infected with HIV, the virus needs to get into your bloodstream. Some types of sex make it very easy for this to happen, while other types of sex are less risky. Safer sex is any type of sex that reduces the risk of the HIV virus being transmitted. There are lots of things that are already safe or can be made safer.
If you are HIV positive (HIV+) (infected with the HIV virus) or if you have AIDS, you can still have a healthy sex life by practising safer sex. And if you are HIV negative (HIV-) (not infected with the HIV virus) you can keep from being infected with HIV by practising safer sex.
We can kiss, hug, massage, touch, rub, fondle, wrestle, jerk off with each other -- no one ever got HIV from these activities.
Oral sex (sucking cock, giving 'head', giving a blow job) is low risk. It is hard to get HIV this way. While some people have become infected with HIV through sucking cock, the numbers have been small. Certain situations can make oral sex riskier. Cuts, sores or abrasions in the mouth, recent dental work, or recent brushing/flossing of your teeth (several hours before sex) can increase risk.
To make oral sex safer, don't suck if you have cuts or sores in your mouth. Try using mouthwash instead of brushing your teeth. You can lower risk further if you choose not to have your partner ejaculate (cum) in your mouth. Sucking on his balls and the shaft of his cock, instead of taking the head of his penis into your mouth, is also lower risk. You can also choose to use a latex condom when you give him a blow job -- flavoured ones are available. A condom will also
protect you from other STDs that you can get through oral sex.
And, no one ever got HIV from someone performing oral sex on them (giving them a blow job).
Oral sex on a woman can also be made safer by using a latex barrier (such as a condom cut
length-wise) over her vagina.
No one ever got HIV by rimming (oral-anal contact, licking someone's asshole). However, rimming someone is an easy way to get other STDs - including hepatitis. To make rimming safer, use a latex barrier. You can also get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.
Anal or Vaginal Intercourse:
Fucking (anal or vaginal intercourse) without a latex condom is high risk. It is easy to get HIV this way. The lining inside your ass is very tender and can easily be irritated during intercourse. This makes it very easy for HIV to get into your bloodstream. Even if you are "on top" (doing the fucking) you can get HIV through abrasions or irritations on your penis. HIV and other STDs can also be passed through the urethra (the lining of the pee hole). If you and your partner are both HIV+, you should still use condoms so you won't re-infect each other with different strains of HIV -- or get any other STDs through fucking.
DO IT SAFELY:
If you have anal or vaginal intercourse, always use a latex condom each time you fuck. Make sure you use lots of water-based lube (like Astroglide, Wet, Forplay, KY) on the outside of the condom, and make sure your partner is lubed up as well. Don't use lubricants that have oil in them (like Vaseline or hand lotion). These weaken the condom and can cause it to break. Don't try to reuse condoms -- they aren't recyclable!
- Talk to your partner(s) about what you feel comfortable doing sexually. Sometimes we may feel pressured into doing something that we don't want to do -- but the bottom line is that it's your body, and you have the right to decide.
- Practice putting on condoms before you get in a situation when you may need them. There are different brands, sizes, and shapes of latex condoms available -- find out which ones you like best. Try putting on condoms with the help of your partner(s) when you are having sex.
- Have lots of condoms and lube in handy places -- by the bed, in the bathroom, in your jacket pocket, with you when you go out . . . wherever!
- Being in a relationship is no guarantee of safety from HIV infection. Talk to your partner(s) about safer sex.
- Drugs and alcohol may enhance your sexual experience, help you to relax, and reduce inhibitions. But think about the ways that drugs and alcohol may affect your ability to have safer sex. It's okay to have a good time, just take care of yourself.
- If you're HIV positive, find out what you can do to remain healthy contact your local AIDS organization for a list of doctors and other resources to help you take care of your health.
- If you had unsafe sex in the past, don't beat yourself up over it. Instead, try to think about what it was that made the situation risky for you. That way, you can try to make sure that you don't do it again. You may find it easier to talk with someone about the unsafe sex you've had: you can call or visit ACT to speak with a counsellor, or you can speak with an ACT outreach volunteer out in the community.
- Talk with your friends about safer sex. The more we begin to feel comfortable talking about safer sex, the easier it will be to insist on safer sex. Be the one to start talking about safer sex when you meet a new sexual partner: chances are they're thinking about it, too. They'll be glad that you think enough of them, and yourself, to be safe.
- Find a doctor that you feel comfortable with. You should be able to talk to your doctor about the fact that you have sex with men, so you can be open about your sexual health concerns.
For more information about safer sex call the AIDS Committee of Toronto at 416-340-2437 or visit our offices at 399 Church Street, 4th floor (at the corner of Church and Carlton Streets).
HIV/AIDS INFORMATION AND SUPPORT:
AIDS Committee of Toronto
Hassle Free Men's Clinic
COMING OUT SUPPORT:
Central Toronto Youth Services
Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans Youth line
1-888-687-9688 or 416-962-2232, http://www.youthline.ca/
Supporting Our Youth (SOY)
416-324-5077 , http://www.soytoronto.org/
Published November 1998.
Funded by Toronto Public Health.