After reading your response to "Red Carpet," I felt that I had to respond. You told the writer that "What's done is done. It's not cool, but it's not fatal." You could not have been more incorrect. This woman needs to notify her date that he or she should be tested for both HIV and Hepatitis B, both of which can be passed through contact with blood and vaginal fluids. You then told the writer, "Have a great time, just be safe and smart with body and heart." You should have been more clear about the risks of unprotected sexual contact. I realize that most Americans are aware of the risks associated with unprotected sexual contact, but CLEARLY this woman and her date are not.
Rachel Waltz, RNC, MSN
Thanks so much for writing in and allowing me to use your name and title. As I told you privately, I think it lends much more gravity to what you said.
In retrospect, I should have been more emphatic about the risks they both were taking. And yes, they should be tested just to be sure. There is some question about how great a risk unprotected oral sex is, but experts agree it is a mode of transmission so that's more than good enough for me. Bear in mind that Hepatitis really likes travelling from one person to another through blood. This means infected drug needles, transfusions, accidental needlesticks, etc. That's most efficient. HOWEVER, this doesn't mean you're home free. The family of Hep viruses can be transmitted through sexual contact.
In order to reduce the risk of transmission of AIDS, Hep B (or C, or D, etc.) or any other STD, always use a barrier during sex. That means vaginal, anal, oral, rimming, all of it. In this particular case we're talking about performing oral sex on a female. Use a dental dam, or cut a latex or polyurethane condom so it makes a square. And here's another thing I thought was bullshit, like the whole douching with Coke after sex to prevent pregnancy (remember that one?). But I looked on the CDC's FAQ (www.CDC.gov), and sure enough, they say regular old plastic wrap can be used as well. And I thought it just kept leftovers fresh.
Shows you what I know.
Remember, none of these is 100 percent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV and STDs. That batting average belongs to the ever-popular abstinence. Sorry. But taking a little precaution when you eat a little pussy, or do anything else, can greatly reduce your risk. Thanks again for reading, Rachel, and thanks for keeping me on my toes.
CDC National AIDS Hotline
1-800-342-AIDS (2437) (English)
1-800-344-SIDA (7432) (Spanish)