“‘Help me I’m going down,’ that’s what I hear her say. Baby, my body count is blowing up all the way. Sign up, put your name down. Make my body count. Make my body count.” –Justin Timberlake, Body Count
Practicing safety is an essential part of a healthy sex life, and the concept spans far past Justin Timberlake’s desire to have meaningful sex. Some things to keep in mind when practicing safe sex specifically around informative disclosure.
- Body Counts
Discussing how many sexual partners you have had can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. Open and honest conversation about your numbers with your physician and partner(s) will keep you and others safe and healthy. Cultural perceptions, double standards, and slut shaming can make the body count convo daunting and seemingly impossible. Without these conversations, though, you are not practicing safe sex. HIV is highest among Black and Hispanic men and women of color. Part of this problem is our reluctance to discuss how many people we’ve been with. We don’t have honest conversations about this crucial information, and if we do talk about the numbers it’s rarely in a healthy framework. We need to talk about sexual history through positive communication, not in a criticizing manner.
- You used to pull out with your ex? …And you weren’t terrified?!”
Exchanging notes on past safe sex practices is healthy and helpful. Your partner may have some helpful tips—or necessary corrections. For instance, telling your partner you used to carry condoms in your back pocket at all times in case you were called into action can be a funny story. It can (and should) also be a teaching moment. Your partner can tell you that you should never carry condoms in the pocket of your jeans. The friction of the heavy material hugging tight to your body can wear thin holes in the rubber. This cancels out that point of wrapping it up in the first place. Recapping past sexual practices and experiences can help build strong communication. Your partner can tell you, “Oh hell no, we’re not relying on you pulling out—go get the condoms out of my top drawer.”
- Get tested regularly, and be honest with your doctor and partners before and after results
Getting tested regularly is important. How often is often? At a bare minimum, get tested once a year if you are sexually active. The most accurate HIV test can be provided 12 weeks after risky sex, so getting tested every three months is the best practice. In addition to your regularly scheduled tests, get tested as soon as possible after any risky sex. If you’re scared, please be assured that knowing is better than not knowing. Be honest with your physician when you get tested. If you can’t bust it open on the doctor’s table and have an open, clear, and honest conversation with a physician about your sexual activity then you need a new doctor or a new lease on life. Disclose all the information you can to your doctor so you can be as safe and healthy as possible. Before, after, and while you’re waiting for test results be honest with your partner. Tell them if you haven’t been tested in 3-6 months. Tell them if your test results came back negative. Tell them if your test results came back positive. Tell them the truth. Dishonesty is unhealthy and unsafe for both you and your partner(s).
- “Remember that girl I told you in part one I was creeping with, sleeping with? Says she’s three months pregnant and she’s keeping it. First thing on my mind was you. Second thing is how do I know if it’s mine? And, is it true?”
If you are not in a monogamous relationship with your partner, then you need to establish that. If you are smashing other guys—even if you’re using protection—you need to let your man know. You could be putting him at risk. If you’re under the impression that you and your girl are exclusive, but she’s been hooking up with other women you are at risk. Even if she’s having protected sex with other women, if she is having unprotected sex with you then you are still at risk of contracting illnesses like HPV. Plus, not telling your partner that you’re seeing other people is just plain rude. You don’t wanna get caught with your pants down on some Usher “Confessions” shit.
“Safe Sex X” is Bae Watch’s new Fall mini-series.