Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Let's all start sucking around

via Fridae, by Jan Wijngaarden

Fridae’s Men’s Sexual Health columnist Jan Wijngaarden wonders why oral sex has not been as widely recommended as a 'safer option' given that it has been found to be of much lower risk compared to anal sex.

A while ago, a friend of mine, who is around 55 years old and from Europe, sadly looked back on his life during a birthday dinner. He said that none of his (gay) friends from when he was in his twenties and thirties was alive to celebrate his birthday with him. They had all died - most of them, by far, died of AIDS.

I was intrigued. Why did he survive? Was he immune, or what? Or was he the only one who used condoms? When we were alone, after the dinner was finished, I decided to ask him.

He said: "Condoms? Nobody used them at that time. It was true; I had syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia several times, but those could be treated easily. That was not it, for sure."

So, what then? He answered: "It is the fact that I HATE anal sex which must have saved my life!"

It is an interesting conclusion, with a lot of truth in it. Anal intercourse is the sexual behaviour which is - by far - most likely to transmit HIV among gay men (and - much less well known - maybe among some heterosexuals, too).

Read the rest.



    Why is Lifelube re-posting this terrible article?

    What starts out as an AWESOME article from a harm reduction point of view -- ie. oral sex is lower risk than anal sex and is yet one more way to reduce the level of risk in your sexual repertoire, along with condoms, lube, getting vaccinated for Hep A & B etc etc -- finishes up as a 2009 gay version of fear-based harm elimination. That approach to HIV prevention was proven to be ineffective long ago, so why is Lifelube sharing an article that makes you look like the laughing stock?

    Is the author seriously suggesting that all gay men should stop having anal sex and only have oral sex? *More importantly* does Lifelube seriously believe this is within the realm of likelihood EVER?

    Is it truly THAT hard to give up the fantasy that we can tell people how to have sex? Are we truly THAT arrogant that we believe they'll do what we say??

    For goodness sake, just offer the scientifically factual information that oral sex (with or without a condom) is a great alternative to higher risk unprotected anal sex and leave it at that.

    Going further and suggesting that gay men should give up anal sex entirely is like religious fundamentalists suggesting everyone should just wait until marriage before having sex.

    I read Lifelube because I thought it was a credible source of information. The conclusion of this article makes you look about as reliable on HIV prevention best practices as George Bush or the Pope.

  2. Oh please Miss Nico --- you are gonna throw lifelube in with Bush and the Pope? Really? I read this blog b/c of its diversity and different viewpoint - i hardly think this article is arrogant and fucked up like you say..... Calm down!

  3. LifeLube doesn't TELL anyone what to do - we just share info, and interesting articles, and encourage people to read and think for themselves. And if you are a regular LifeLuber - you will see that a very large part of our posts discuss ANAL SEX - with no suggestions to stop fucking. We are also a brother site to IRMA - International Rectal Microbicide Advocates - which is all about finding new ways to protect ourselves during ANAL SEX.

  4. Jan Wijngaarden's article concludes:

    "...we should educate our sisters and brothers about the virtue of oral sex versus anal sex. If we would all switch from having anal sex to only having oral sex, we would not only be able to walk straighter, but we would turn the HIV epidemic around..."

    How is such an unrealistic suggestion at all helpful in our efforts to prevent HIV infection among men who have sex with men in 2009?

    Wijngaarden makes the bizarre choice not to offer oral sex as an option guys can sometimes use to reduce risk during sex, but prescribes it as the solution to bad, dangerous anal sex.

    In March 2009, Ford Hickson of Sigma Reearch at the University of Portsmouth delivered the plenary address to the 12th Annual CHAPS Conference. It's sad that Hickson's key point is lost on so many, even in the world of HIV prevention. He said:

    "The first thing I want to acknowledge is the sheer power of the pleasure of a desired homosexual encounter, either with a stranger or a lover. I want to recognise the strength of intercourse with the right partner, and the differences in sexual flow and sensation of intercourse with and without a condom. I am, quite frankly, sick of people saying they can't understand why anyone would have sex with a risk of HIV transmission. ...The vast majority of risk is driven by desire. Sexual desire remains a mystery to those not experiencing it. What is one man's revulsion is another man's thrill. If you do not understand sexual risk, it is probably because you don't appreciate sexual desire."

    Lifelube might be re-posting Wijngaarden's article to "encourage people to read and think for themselves", but it is giving space to fear-based messages urging gay men to give up an enormously satisfying part of their sex lives. What credible HIV prevention advocate would propose gay men should stop having anal sex altogether?

  5. I am not Jan, though I don't think his point was to tell everyone to stop having anal sex. If you look at the rest of his work, that is not a theme. The point I took out of this article was the enormous reduction in risk provided by oral sex... I know plenty of men who switched to oral only as their way of dealing with the HIV epidemic. It was their choice, and for them, a good one. We all spend a lot of time talking about sex and condoms - implying that all sex, or all VALID sex, requires penetration. That's just not true. And I am glad Jan is writing about oral sex as an option - not a mandate, and not some crazy fantasy.


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