AbstinenceAbstinence, or the voluntary choice to refrain from sexual activity is the only 100% effective means to prevent HIV and STD transmission. Non-coital (non-sexual) forms of sexual intimacy range from holding hands, hugging, kissing, and dancing to mutual masturbation, petting, and the use of stimulating devices such as vibrators. While abstinence is an effective means of safer sex, it may be difficult to maintain.
CondomsLatex condoms provide the most effective means of preventing HIV and STD transmission during sexual encounters. But to be effective, condoms must be used correctly. An erect penis can leak seminal fluid prior to ejaculation. This fluid can contain infectious organisms that have the ability to cause infection in others. For this reason, condoms must be applied onto the penis prior to any oral, vaginal, or anal contact is made. In addition, condoms can break, allowing seminal fluids to leak. To reduce the possibility of this occurring, a water based lubricant must be used to decrease friction during intercourse. Oil based lubricants such as baby oil, Vaseline, or certain lotions can weaken a condom and should never be used.
Important Fact! - Sheepskin condoms do not provide an effective barrier to HIV and other STD's and should not be used for that purpose.
Female CondomWhile data on the effectiveness of the female condom is limited it is a good alternative for a woman whose partner is reluctant to wear a condom or is unable due to a latex allergy. Female condoms allow a woman to assume control over safer sex. Slipping inside the vagina, the female condom provides a lubricated barrier that is stronger than latex. It can be inserted up to eight hours prior to intercourse, providing for the spontaneity that often is lost with latex condoms.
Dental DamsDental dams are rectangular squares of latex that are used during oral sex, both oral-vaginal and oral-anal. During sex, latex dams are stretched across your partner's genitals to prevent your tongue from touching your partner's bodily secretions. They are effective method of disease prevention, but can be difficult to hold in place. A dab of water soluble lubricant placed on the genital side of the dam can help hold it in place.
Because anal and vaginal sex are much riskier and because most individuals who engage in unprotected (i.e., without a condom) oral sex also engage in unprotected anal and/or vaginal sex, the exact proportion of HIV infections attributable to oral sex alone is unknown, but is likely to be very small. While this has led some people to believe that oral sex is completely safe keep in mind thatIt is not!