Safer sex is understood to be methods that prevent the transmission of HIV.
Each of the following three safer sex methods provides protection from HIV transmission, if applied correctly:
Condoms and femidoms prevent HIV from entering the mucous membranes and the body during sexual intercourse. Further information on condoms and Further information on femidoms
PrEP (acronym for “pre-exposure prophylaxis”): PrEP is a form of prevention where people exposed to a high risk of HIV infection proactively take anti-HIV medication that protects them from getting infected with HIV. Further information on PrEP
Treatment as Prevention: HIV therapy suppresses viral replication in the body. HIV can then no longer be transmitted. Further information on Treatment as Prevention
What do you need to remember during oral sex?
During oral sex (sucking or licking the penis, vagina or anus), there is virtually no risk of HIV transmission, because the oral mucosa is very stable. Even if sperm or menstrual blood enters the mouth, the risk of transmission is very low – only a few cases where HIV was transmitted this way have been reported worldwide.
Safer sex strategies
In addition to the safer sex rules, there are other possibilities to reduce the risk of an HIV infection – especially in a permanent relationship.
The “Testing Together” strategy involves both partners getting tested for HIV. If both are HIV-negative and do not have sex with other partners, they can stop using condoms.
Some couples expand this rule: They have an open relationship and exclusively practice safer sex outside the relationship so that they can have sex without a condom within the relationship. This requires very clear arrangements. That is why this strategy is called “Negotiated Safety”.
“Testing Together” and “Negotiated Safety” require a great deal of trust in the partner: Is he or she really not having unprotected sex with other partners? If this does happen, he or she must be honest about it in order not endanger the steady partner.
Important: Find out more about the HIV test.
Condoms and femidoms protect you from HIV and reduce the risk of infection with other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B and C (you should get a vaccination against hepatitis A and B if you have sex with different partners).
Condoms can be obtained from pharmacies, supermarkets and sex shops; there are also condom dispensing machines. Condoms and lubricant gel (lube) are also available in places where men have sex with other men (saunas, darkroom bars, sex cinemas). Femidoms can be obtained from pharmacies and on the internet; they are relatively expensive in comparison to condoms.
Standard-size condoms fit most penises. But larger and smaller condoms are available. Models with a special ring in the middle that prevents the condom from slipping off are suitable for penises with a smaller circumference. You should always use a sufficient quantity of oil-free lubricant gel for anal sex or when the vagina is dry. Oil-based substances (Vaseline, massage oil, body lotion) destroy condoms.
Femidoms consists of an extremely thin plastic sheath closed at one end with a flexible ring at the front and one at the back. The front ring remains outside the vagina, and the back ring is inserted into the vagina as far as it can go until it reaches the cervix. Femidoms have to be coated inside and out with sufficient amounts of lubricant gel before they are inserted.
Important: Condoms and femidoms can provide reliable protection only if they are used correctly. Here the main thing is try it until you get it right!
PrEP (or HIV-PrEP) stands for "pre-exposure prophylaxis" and is a preventive measure prior to a risky contact. With thsi protection method, an HIV-negative person takes a certain HIV medication to protect themselves against becoming infected with HIV.
When it is properly used, PrEP protects as well as condoms/femidoms (female condoms) or Protection through Therapy.
With this method, it is important to have the support of a doctor and to be tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases on a regular basis.
PrEP does not provide protection against other sexually transmitted diseases.
In Germany PrEP is paid for by health insurance companies.
Information on PrEP is provided by counseling service organizations and some specialised HIV doctors practices.
Protection through Therapy
Protection through therapy (also known as Treatment as Prevention/TasP) prevents HIV infection during sex if one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative.
The method is based on hiv-positive people taking HIV drugs and thus suppressing HIV reproduction in a stable manner. If HIV has not been detectable in their blood for at least half a year, there are hardly any viruses left in other bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal fluid. HIV can then no longer be transmitted even during sex.
A condom can be dispensed with under these conditions and is still protected from HIV. Protection through therapy is therefore also a safer sex method.
Important: The medications must be taken regularly and the effect of the medication must be checked regularly by a doctor.