The term ‘safer sex’, also known as ‘safe sex’, groups effective methods for preventing a transmission of HIV.
Each of the following three methods for safer sex effectively protects against HIV transmission when used correctly:
- Condoms protect during sexual intercourse (anal and vaginal). During anal intercourse or when the vagina is dry, you should always use plenty of grease-free lubricant to prevent injuries. The lubricant also reduces the risk of damaging the condom.
- Protection through therapy: If people with HIV have been receiving a well-functioning HIV treatment for at least half a year, then there are practically no HI-viruses left in the body fluids (blood, sperm, vulva fluid, intestinal secretions). Thus, HIV cannot be transmitted.
- PrEP (abbreviation for "pre-exposure prophylaxis"): With PrEP, HIV-negative people take HIV medication that protects them from contracting HIV.
What is important to bear in mind during oral sex?
There is almost no risk of HIV during oral sex (sucking or licking the penis, vulva or anus), because the oral mucosa is very stable. Even if sperm or menstrual blood ends up in the mouth, the risk of transmission is very low - only a few cases have been described worldwide in which HIV infection occurred as a result. Further information.
Strategies for safer sex
In addition to following the rules for safer sex, there are also other ways to reduce the risk of HIV infection, particularly in permanent relationships.
Partners can decide to take an HIV-test together ("Bilanztest"). If both are HIV-negative and do not have sex with other partners, they can stop using condoms.
Some couples expand this rule: they are in an open relationship and only practise safer sex outside the relationship, in order to have sex without condoms within the relationship. Very clear agreements are necessary in a situation like this. This strategy is therefore called "negotiated security."
A "Bilanztest" and using "negotiated security" requires great trust in your partner: did they ever have unprotected sex with other partners? If it does ever happen, the partner must be honest about it, so as not to endanger their regular partner.
Important: Get informed about an HIV test.