Female-to-Female HIV Transmission: Yes, it can happen! Ways to stay safe with lovers, with clients and with co-workers.

The CDC recently confirmed the first known case of woman-to-woman HIV transmission. We’ve known for a long time that women could transmit HIV to men, but this means that women with HIV pose a transmission risk for their female partners.

If you’re having sex with a woman, it’s important to remember that you still need to be safe! You and your partner (be it your lover, your client, or a co-worker) can take steps to reduce your risk of HIV, HCV (Hepatitis C) and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and you don’t have to kill the mood to do it.

1. Use protection!

HIV and other diseases are transmitted through bodily fluids. When two women have sex, the riskiest fluids are blood & menstrual blood, vaginal juices, and fluid from sores. The most important thing is to keep your mucus membranes (like your mouth, anus, and vagina) away from your partner’s fluids. You can do this with a condom or a dam. And be sure not to touch sores like herpes or genital warts.

When you’re having oral sex, use a dam to cover the vaginal or anal area. Don’t be afraid to get creative: some people use garter belts to keep the latex in place so their hands are free to roam. If you don’t have a dam, you can use non-microwaveable plastic wrap or use a condom- cut the elastic part and the tip off with scissors, and then cut down the side. You should have a simple square of latex. For vulva to vulva sex, you can use a similar method- just make sure you use a fresh barrier every time!

If you’re fisting and fingering, watch out for cuts or sores- you can transmit diseases through them. But you can stay safe simply by using a latex glove, condom, or finger cot. And if you’re using toys, you can wash them in soapy water or bleach, or just use a condom on them, and you’re good to go!

S&M practices are generally pretty safe, as long as no bodily fluids are involved. If you’re doing any kind of skin breaking (for instance, piercing needles), you can just clean the tools you’re going to use with bleach. And if you’re shaving each other, use a separate razor for each person.

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Please note that it is not always safe to carry scissors – they are a weapon that can be used against you, or you can be charged with possession ( prepare these first, or ask us for dental dams to bring when you are working!)

2. Keep the load low.

If you are HIV+, always use protection, but you’re less likely to transmit HIV when your viral load is suppressed. This can happen when you take medication every day and follow a plan for HIV treatment. Call our case manager if you want more information about where to get connected to free HIV services (866-509-SAFE).

3. Be PrEPared.

PrEP 1 is a pill you can take once a day that will prevent HIV transmission. If you HIV negative and are concerned about contracting the virus, consider taking this medication. If you’re concerned about spreading HIV to your partner, talk to him or her about this drug.

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4. When you have to work

If you’re having your period and need to work anyway, remember that menstrual blood does carry HIV. However, you can take steps to protect yourself and others while you work.

Cup it: Softcups are menstrual products that sit inside your vagina and collect blood during your period, rather than a tampon or a pad which absorbs it. This means that something like a Diva Cup would serve as a barrier for menstural blood, preventing your partner from coming in contact with it. Just remember: cups can’t be left in for more than a few hours, and they won’t prevent you from contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections.

Fake it til you make it: use your judgement. If you don’t have protection, fake it, and give a performance without the penetration.

5. In Case of Emergency

PEP is a medication you can take immediately after being exposed to HIV that will reduce your risk of becoming infected. If something happened that you did not plan for, go to a local emergency room. They might ask you questions about what happened just to determine what your risk level is, and how much medication you’ll need. Call our hotline with any questions.

6. Communicate

Talk with your partners and your dates about safe sex. You know best how to keep your self safe and your body healthy. Use these tips if they work for you – please comment below if you have other suggestions!

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