Monday, April 20, 2009

Snakes and Safer Sex

Here is a link to click on to read about safer sex.

I've been thinking about safer sex and what that means. Obviously the safest sex one can have is with oneself. The next safest sex would be sex within a monogamous relationship between two people or within a closed poly-fidelitous group of folks who only have sex with each other. Assuming of course that in each of these situations everyone has been tested for the gamut of possible sexually transmitted diseases and that their test results have all come back negative. Oh, and that everyone can be trusted to be keeping their safer sex agreements.

Another reasonable (in my own personal opinion of course) safer sex agreement is to have a core group of people whom you trust, who have all been tested to be free of disease, who are fluid bonded with someone (s) within that core group and who practice safer sex protection outside of that circle should they decide to have sex with anyone else. Of course, this all depends on good communication skills and honesty. And hopefully we have these things with the people we are having sex with. Not a bad idea.

One thing that complicates this arrangement is that I may know and trust my lovers, and even know and trust my lover's lovers, but when the array of lovers starts stretching out ad infinitum, how far is it reasonable to trust? I tend to be a pretty trusting person and I think I'm fairly reasonable also...

I was walking by the creek today in a rattlesnake infested area. It's a beautiful area and I'm not willing to forsake the pleasure I receive when I visit there even though I have a fairly intense fear of snakes. There have been times when I do forgo this creek side experience because my fear is up so for awhile after almost stepping on a big rattler lying in the middle of the path. But eventually I always return.

I've been contemplating this whole safer sex issue, and today as I came upon the creek and the possible snakes lying in wait, I was enlightened with the similarities of the potential of encountering a snake and contracting a sexually transmitted disease. The risks are definitely real in both cases. There are rattlesnakes down at the creek. I've seen them myself and there are warning signs telling me to beware. My fear of snakes is far greater than my fear of STDs.

I've taught safer sex practices professionally so I know the risks (but I also hold other non-traditional views of disease and the world.) That was many years ago when I worked with many HIV positive and intravenous drug using folks. And some of the information available has changed but it's mostly the same. I could brush up on all the stats but I'm thinking I'm fairly educated on the actual behavior that increases/decreases one's risk of contracting an STD. It's not a good idea to have unprotected sex with an intravenous drug user and obviously, if you don't know the person you're having sex with then you have no clue what they may be up to. That's not all there is to it but it's a good starting place.

But where to go after the obvious basics have been covered can be nebulous and confusing. If people weren't attached to having bareback sex and being fluid bonded with their lovers, this wouldn't be a big deal. Everyone could just use condoms and dental dams and stop all the worry. But this is not the case. So where to go, where to go?

I'm still walking down by the creek. I know I'm taking a risk that I will get bitten by a snake. How big is the risk? Mathematically speaking I have no clue of the stats. I tend to think that my fear of snakes draws the opportunity closer. That's a scary thought so try to counteract my fear with other thoughts and emotions while I'm down in occupied territory. I'm not willing to give up my creek side walking pleasure.

I'm generally not a very fearful person and I don't tend to worry about contracting an STD. I'm also not having sex (let alone unprotected sex) with strangers and/or intravenous drug users. That's a good start. I do take other precautions too. Are they enough?

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