By: Melissa Colleary
If you or your partner are using birth control, or your partner is the same sex as you, it may feel as though there is no real need to use condoms. Whether you’re at risk for pregnancy or not, condoms are still an important part of your sexual health.
1. HIV and STIs can happen to anyone
Although HIV and STIs are more prevalent in certain demographics, the reality is that HIV and STIs do not discriminate against sexual orientation, skin color, injection drug use, or economic class. All people are susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consistent and correct condom use can reduce your risk of contracting HIV, viral hepatitis, and STIs. For condom use to be most effective they should be used correctly with every sex act.
To learn how to properly put on a condom, click here.
2. PrEP does not prevent against other STIs
While pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) does protect against HIV, it does not provide protection against other STIs, such as chlamydia, gonhorrea, and syphilis. Even if you are currently taking PrEP, you are still at risk for sexually transmitted infections if you do not consistently and correctly use condoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Syphilis continues to increase among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Recent outbreaks among MSM have been marked by high rates of HIV coinfection and high-risk sexual behaviors (such as sex without a condom, new or multiple partners, and substance abuse).
It is important to emphasize that having sex without a condom, regardless of PrEP usage, is considered to be a high-risk sexual behavior as it leaves the individual vulnerable for other sexually transmitted infections.
3. Your partner’s status might not be what you think
This one isn’t about your partner lying to you about being “clean” or having a negative HIV or STI status. It’s more likely that they just don’t know. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that of the 1.2 million people estimated to have HIV in the United States, about one in eight are unaware of their infection. Additionally, when it comes to STIs, many people do not know they are infected because STIs often have no symptoms.
If your partner doesn’t know their status, then you may not either.
High rates of undiagnosed HIV and STIs mean it is extremely important to use condoms with every sexual encounter and get tested often.
Free and confidential mobile testing is available throughout Long Island when you schedule an appointment with a LIAAC tester by calling 866-236-3448
4. You have multiple partners
While mutual monogamy can be a way to prevent against HIV and STIs, it is not for everyone. If having multiple partners is what is best for you, make sure to always use condoms. It is important to use condoms with all of your sexual partners, as choosing to have unprotected sex with just one of your partners can still result in STIs and HIV.
5. You’re not just putting yourself at risk
If you are choosing to have sex without a condom, the consequences might not only affect you. If you contract HIV or STIs from having unprotected sex and are not getting tested regularly, you are likely to spread that infection on to your partner(s).
When it comes to using condoms, it’s best to follow this rule: If you wouldn’t want someone to give you an STI or HIV, don’t leave your partners susceptible to the same.
To best protect yourself and your partner(s) against sexually transmitted infections, use condoms with every sexual encounter, know your HIV and STI status, and get tested.