HIV/AIDS: 6 Ways To Protect Yourself Beyond Condoms

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Did you know that HIV/AIDS is still one of the top 10 killers among African Americans – 5th for men, 7th for women? Furthermore, the majority of all reported cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis occur among Blacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There’s no vaccine to prevent HIV or cure for AIDS or viral STDs, but in 2015, there are so many ways to protect yourself and others from infection. recently spoke with Susan Gilbert, co-director of the National Coalition of Sex
ual Health, to help bring you six ways to ensure your sexual health and well-being:

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1. “You and your health matter.” You can shape your health and future by taking care of your sexual health today. We know you have a lot on your plate, but you need to make room for sexual health. Just like other aspects of your health – heart health, diabetes and blood pressure – it’s worth your time. Taking care of your sexual health can help you enjoy a healthier body, satisfying sexual life, positive relationships and peace of mind.

First, value who you are and decide what’s right for you. Sex is a natural part of life, and it can bring you pleasure, intimacy and joy, but it’s up to you to decide if and when you choose to have sex. Think about what you want in line with your personal values, desires and boundaries. These might change depending on your stage in life.

Treat your partners well and expect them to treat you well. Be with someone who makes you feel good about yourself, comfortable and safe. Partners should respect your boundaries and should care your about health.”

2. “Get smart about your body and protect it. There are many different ways you can express yourself sexually and some activities are riskier than others. Before you have sex, it’s important to get informed about the risks of different sexual activities and the steps you can take to help protect yourself. If you’re engaging in vaginal, anal or oral sex, barrier methods, such as the male and female condom can greatly reduce your risk of contracting HIV and other STIs.

And women, if you’re having sex, you need to think about protecting yourself from both unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Condoms are the only method that offers dual protection. Some women are now using two methods – a condom along with another contraceptive method, such as the IUD or pill – to provide added protection against pregnancy. African-American girls are leading the way when it comes to dual protection with 13 percent using this strategy.”

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