In the last several years unprotected anal intercourse has been implicated as a very significant mode for transmission of the virus (HTLV-III) responsible for AIDS. For those of us for whom our asses (and its orifice) are significant sexual organs this has presented a dilemma particularly in light of the need for conscientious safe sex.
AIDS has been one loss after another including some phenomenally tragic losses, that is, involving the loss of our loved ones. One loss (certainly less significant than death but very important nonetheless) has been the ability to engage in sex without the fear of contracting something that could kill us. Many of us have had to examine our lifestyles very closely and ask if they are not to be directly implicated in the current epidemic. Although I believe certain aspects of the 'gay male lifestyle' that evolved in the middle 1970*s were destructive much of it was not. We cannot stop being intimate with each other - we simply need to fine tune a few things -especially in the area of anal sexual practice.
Many of the safe sex guidelines that have been developed have avoided implicating or singling out the various forms of ass play popular with gay men as being particularly dangerous. Various new studies are showing though that unprotected receptive anal intercourse (getting fucked) is the one gay male sexual act that puts you most at risk for becoming infected with HTLV-III. This does not mean that other unsafe sexual practices are now alright - it just means they probably carry less risk. For instance, though oral sex may not carry the same risk as anal sex it is by no means risk free and may very well be an effective way of transmitting other viruses such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) that may be (among others) an important co-factor(s) in the development of full blown AIDS. These questions will eventually be answered but for now we need to be very conservative with safe sex recommendations and guidelines. It is also very important for couples who have both been infected with the virus (are antibody positive) to have only safe sex with each other. Repeated reinfection with HTLV-III and other sexually transmitted germs is most certainly a co-factor in developing full blown AIDS.
So - should we just put our assholes on hold for the rest of our lives? I don't think that is necessary at all and I would like to throw out a few suggestions to keep those of us who enjoy having those parts of our anatomy stimulated from getting very cranky because we aren't 'getting any.' The last thing we need in the midst of this crisis is a bunch of cranky queens!
If you are not the current owner of a sensible dildo - go right out and get one. Dildos are a lot like shoes. The real flashy impressive ones may be fun to look at but are hell on your feet and back. Since it is quite possible to do real damage to your anal canal with a hard plastic and much too long dildo - please be realistic! Soft and very pliable dildos should be the order of the day and from six to eight inches are plenty - thank you! And, please remember, even with these small and softer models you should treat your asshole with respect - for goodness sake.
Something else to remember when purchasing a dildo is to get the type with large balls attached. You are much less likely to loose it that way. It could also save you a very embarrassing visit to your local emergency room for a midnight extraction. You do not win friends and influence people in the medical establishment when you show up needing your toys retrieved!
Before moving into dildo play with others, which involves a few other safe sex considerations, try it out on yourself first. Back when poppers were fun and thought to be harmless a good hit or two was great for loosening up the old anal ring. However, times have changed and luckily we were all born with fingers! Incorporating the use of a dildo into your masturbating routine can be facilitated and much more enjoyable the 'first time' if you just take the time to relax and begin with some rectal stimulation using a finger and lots of water soluble lubricant. KY is the best known but there are cheaper brands. You should not skimp on the lube - use plenty!
Don't do any flying leaps onto your ungreased dildo or you will be sorry! Several gay men I know have named their dildos. That is certainly up to the individual and there's not a question of safety involved! A good book, day dream or movie and the rest is up to you.
Dildos definitely offer some safe options for healthy ass play. Remember though that you should not share your dildo. Have your safe sex partner bring their own! It is also advisable that you or your partner grease up your own assholes - a finger or fingers in some one else's butt is not recommended although it probably carries little risk.
Many devotees of this form of ass play say that putting a rubber on your dildo is a very pleasant enhancement of the sensation and may also save some wear and tear on your rectum. To clean your dildo between outings a 1:10 solution of bleach and water with a household detergent added is adequate - do rinse off the bleach/soap thoroughly before the next use!
The use of condoms (rubbers) when done correctly and in a conscientious manner also offers the opportunity for ass play with very little risk - assuming of course that the rubber does not tear or break. A study released in December 1985 from the University of California at San Francisco confirmed what many felt was the case - condoms effectively block the AIDS virus (HTLV-III). Two prominent AIDS researchers, Marcus Conant and Jay Levy, conducted the research that demonstrates that both latex and natural skin condoms are effective barriers to the AIDS virus. Anecdotal reports say that Fourex brand condoms in the hard plastic pack are stronger than latex rubbers.
There is the possibility though that the condom could break and so there are several guidelines being offered to decrease the chance of this happening. Also - use of lube or a condom pre-lubricated with the spermi-cide nonoxynol-9 is recommended. This spermicide kills the AIDS virus in laboratory tests. Do NOT just use a lube with nonoxynol-9 in it and think this is safe - IT IS NOT!!! You need to have the rubbers on also. Forplay is a water based lubricant that contains nonoxynol-9. Two rubbers I am aware of that come pre-lubricated with nonoxynol-9 are Trojan Plus and Ramses Extra. Vaginal spermicide with nonoxynol-9 is recommended for rectal application to give greater amounts of nonoxynol-9 than are on pre-lubricated condoms. Use of the vaginal spermicide should be in addition to plenty of water based lube and not a substitution for it. The possible long term effects of nonoxynol-9 on the rectum are not known and some do recommend caution with the rectal use of this spermicide. Now, a few things to do to decrease the chance of rubbers tearing or breaking:
*** Take your time and communicate with your partner - rushed or hurried sex will add to the chances of rubber damage. Hurried, non-verbal and anonymous sex is not healthy for a variety of reasons!!
*** Do not enter your partner (ever) without the rubber on; planning to pull out and rubber-up before coming does not work. Pre-cum most probably also contains the AIDS virus.
*** Be careful opening the rubber package - make sure also that . the rubbers are not old or that they have not been handled roughly or exposed to heat and/or strong light. DO NOT blow-up the rubber first to check for leaks!! This could severely weaken the product!
*** Do not pre-grease your cock - this will not facilitate the rubber staying on. Many rubber users do say that putting a small dab of lube in the tip of the condom can enhance the whole experience significantly, however.
*** Use rubbers that have a receptacle tip to collect sperm - be sure though to gently press the air out of this tip before slipping the condom all the way on. Air bubbles at the end of condoms are felt to be a major cause of breakage - the bubble pops!
*** Unroll the rubber all the way to the base of your hard cock -if you're not completely hard remember to keep unrolling as you lengthen!
*** Use plenty of lube that is water soluble and do not use oil based lubricants or saliva. Also, make sure that the person being fucked has well lubricated their asshole. Simply using a pre-lubricated rubber is not sufficient - added lubrication is always needed for both partners.
*** This may sound ridiculous but keeping the lube from drying out is important - apply more lube when things start to dry out. Some have used atomizers or spray bottles with water - a few squirts and you're back in business. Do not ever use spit to provide more lubrication.
*** Holding on to the base of the condom is a good idea if you are partially soft or your partner is very tight. Once you've come hold on to the base of the rubber as you withdraw. Leaving a condom full of sperm up your partner's ass just doesn't cut it when trying to be safe!
*** Never re-use a condom and don't be shy about using several condoms during a single sexual encounter. If you go soft and haven't come yet - resume foreplay but then start with a new rubber if you resume fucking.
Another personal anecdotal recommendation is to avoid anal intercourse if there is a significant amount of feces present in the rectum or on the rubber. This can estate abrasive friction not good for keeping condoms intact. Douching is not currently recommended (that advice comes primarily in reference to anal intercourse without a rubber.) We need more information on this and whether or not douching is a risk with conscientious rubber usage is still in question.
Remember - practice makes perfect! Experimenting with rubbers alone first is probably a very good idea. Masturbating with a rubber on can also be an educational exercise.
If finger fucking is something your partner enjoys and he prefers your fingers - seriously consider using latex gloves. These can be purchased in quantity at a fairly reasonable price. Fisting, even using a glove, is not recommended at all because of the potential for serious damage to the rectum. If you must fist, however, gloves are a good idea to decrease the risk of transmission of HTLV-III virus.
Gloves, rubbers and dildos can be viable addendums to healthy assplay that will make it safer - they do not eliminate the risk (rubbers can break) but they do greatly reduce it. If sensitive communication is part of your sexual interaction, these 'items' do not lead to a dehumanizing of sex! Sex involving no communication and a disregard for your health and your partner's health is dehumanizing!
Sex does not cause AIDS - a virus causes AIDS. We can greatly decrease the chances of passing the virus around by conscientiously using safe sex techniques and this does not mean the elimination of ass play.