World AIDS Day is observed on December 1 each year to spread awareness about the deadly disease which has so far claimed nearly 33 million lives, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), that causes AIDS, is attributed to sexual contact or needle-sharing with infected persons, or, through transfusions of infected blood.
According to UNAIDS, about 7.1 million people did not know that they were living with HIV in 2019.
Stigma has played a major role in the spread of the disease and has prevented people from getting tested.
On World AIDS Day, Sexologist Dr. Sharmila Majumdar lists down ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases:
Make sure that information about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are sourced from health experts or from a reliable medium and not from a random internet search.
The most common STDs are: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, vaginitis, genital warts (HPV), herpes, HIV, and hepatitis B.
STDs are passed through sexual practices during vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and sometimes by genital touching.
It is important to understand how each STD is passed from person to person during sex.
Decide To Be Safe
It is paramount to follow safety precautions while practicing sex. Not following healthy sexual practices can increase the chances of transmission of STDs.
Always use protection such as condom as you can’t tell with certainty if someone has an STD, many people have no symptoms.
Choose Your Protection
Design a plan that will work for you. Condoms are cheap, easy to use, and an effective way to prevent STDs.
Even in the case of monogamous relationships, you must continue using protection and watch out for any bumps, sores, unusual discharge, itching, or pain, or odour.
If you have multiple partners, getting tested for STDs should be a regular practice since many STDs are asymptomatic.
Communication is crucial to practicing safe sex. People sometimes have apprehensions about discussing the topic but talking is the only way to ensure that you and your partner are on the same page.
Make Safety Sexy
Safe sex doesn’t need to be boring. Experiment with condoms: different smells, flavours, textures, colours, thicknesses, and styles.
Use a range of water-based lubricants to enhance the experience.
Safe Sex In Times Of COVID
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr. Arockia Virgin Fernando insists that preventive measures are the need of the hour for people practicing sex during the pandemic.
“For partners living in the same house, it is advisable to have safe sex using a condom every time and avoid oral sex.
If your partner is not living with you, it is advisable to not kiss or have oral sex and use condoms at all times.
If your partner has symptoms like fever, cough, or congestion, it is advisable to abstain from sex till the symptoms disappear,” says Dr. Fernando.
Dr. Fernando advices against casual sex, “Any type of sex with an unknown individual is not advisable during the pandemic.”