Contributed by – Dr. Dhrity Vats
Love is blind…but sex isn’t!
Times have changed. You do not have to be married to wait for sex. It’s a natural desire that individuals have as they attain puberty. The hormones play a major role in initiating this desire. In the Indian society, the word SEX is considered to be a taboo; any open discussion is shunned and people till date prefer to talk in whispers. This fuels the misconceptions about sexual interaction and related complications if any. But, safety and awareness should be the top most priority. Rather, safety comes with awareness. So, if last night you had unprotected sex with a partner who does not know their HIV status, both of you should get tested.
It is best to have protected sex, but if you were not protected then chances of getting a sexually transmitted disease is very high, especially if your sexual partner is exposed to HIV.
What is Unprotected Sex?
Involvement in any sexual activity where a condom is not used is known as unprotected sex. A condom can be used by both or any one partner.
How is HIV passed during unprotected sex?
A sexual contact with someone who has HIV greatly increases your chances of contracting the virus. Moreover, in the absence of condom, the body fluids come in contact with each other such as the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, pre-cum or anal mucus and the virus transmits to the blood stream of the sexual partner.
It is a myth that STD including HIV/AIDS can only be transmitted through vaginal sex. According to research, it is most commonly spread my anal sex as the lining of the anus is thinner and is torn easily. When the HIV-infected semen comes in contact with the broken skin chances of getting infected are high. Same is in the case of oral sex if you have ulcers or broken skin that too can be risky.
This happens via the delicate and absorbent mucous skin of:
- the penis,
- lining of the rectum,
- the mouth and throat (if broken skin area)
Methods of Protected Sex
For protection against HIV/AIDS, it is important to understand that it is the body fluids which should not come in contact. For this, no contraceptive pill or intrauterine device would help. The only and preferred way of protection is a condom. Now a day’s condoms are available for both men and women. A condom gives a complete lining of latex and does not let the semen come in contact with the broken skin.
Are you at risk?
Anybody can be affected by the HIV. The way you get HIV can vary. HIV positive people do not generally come to know how they got the virus but its carrier is bloodstream or body fluids. You can be at a risk of having HIV if
- you have multiple sex partners
- you had sex—anal or vaginal—with an HIV-positive partner
- you have been diagnosed with or treated for Hepatitis or Tuberculosis (TB)
- your partner or you have any sexually transmitted infection.
- you take drugs through injections.
How to get tested?
If you had unprotected sex and are worried that your partner might be HIV positive; get yourself tested. You could be counseled and even given a questionnaire by the doctor before you are advised for this test.
The test is a simple blood test. The phlebotomist shall take a sterile sample of your blood and study it in the laboratory for HIV antibodies.
Sometimes, the HIV may be negative in spite of you being exposed to the virus. This is because the virus has an incubation period of 3 to 12 weeks (21-84 days) called the ‘window period’. In most cases, an individual shows symptoms of being infected by this virus within 6-12 months.
Our phlebotomists are specially trained by NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation) to administer HIV test. Any information about your test or its results will be kept confidential with us at Healthians and shall be either mailed to you or informed over the telephone.
You can lower your risk of getting the HIV by
- limiting the number of sexual partners
- knowing if your partner is HIV positive
- using a condom regularly for all kinds of sex
- getting screened for other sexually transmitted infections
- avoiding using intravenous drugs
- not sharing needles
If you had unprotected sex with someone whose HIV status is not known to you, get yourself tested soon to a avoid complications and to begin quick treatment. Since there is no age bar as to when you can or should have sex, similarly there is no age bar for getting HIV. In a homosexual relationship too, you have to be careful not to get any sexually transmitted disease. Prevention is always better than cure, especially in the case when there is no cure. But, if no precautions were used, a timely test is the only option to avoid further complications.