Tag Archives: COVID19

COVID-19 and the HIV Response

The COVID-19 pandemic was (and still is) a harsh burden on the ability to access healthcare services and resources globally. Before the pandemic, doctors and public health officials were hopeful that the decline in HIV cases would continue to drop, and a campaign to eliminate the AIDS epidemic by 2030 was underway. Then, the pandemic hit and set that goal back.

So how exactly has COVID-19 affected HIV response? Broadly speaking, the pandemic impacted the healthcare access of marginalized communities the most¹. Low-income workers and people of color were disproportionately impacted, and ethnic minority groups already faced more barriers in regards to healthcare equity before the pandemic begun². Coupled with the fact that HIV is most prevalent amongst low-income and marginalized groups, COVID-19 only made the fight for healthcare equality and against HIV more difficult. In total, over 20 million people became unemployed, leading many to lose their health insurance and unable to access necessary preventative HIV resources.

Over the course of the pandemic, there have been 670,000 less HIV screenings and 4,900 less diagnoses of HIV. PrEP prescriptions have declined 21% nationally. While these seem to be good signs, experts warn that it’s because less people are going to clinics to be tested and treated due to fears of contracting the virus, economic hardships, and stricter interactactions with physicians³. Drug overdoses have continued to rise, which doesn’t bode well for the 66% of HIV transmissions that happen via needles. As of 2019, 19% of people with HIV did not know they had it, and it’s possible that number has increased since the pandemic.  But, the fight against HIV is far from over and still looks hopeful. Over the past decade, HIV cases have dropped 23%³. The pandemic may have slowed progress, but the goal of eradicating HIV is far from unachievable. The focus is to get back on track by increasing resources available, urging more people to be tested, and promoting the use of PrEP and condoms. With the end of the pandemic on the horizon, it’s crucial to get back on track by advocating and supporting preventative measures against HIV. It takes all of us to do it.

Source link

Sex in the Time of COVID-19

Sex in the Time of COVID-19

With mandatory mask-wearing and physical distancing of at least six feet becoming the norm around the nation, the question remains—is sex safe?

In short—it can be, but sexologists in Delhi say any type of in-person sexual activity does carry some risk. But there are ways to have intimate contact and remain connected.

How is it transmitted?

Let’s start with what we know. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, so direct contact with saliva—through kissing, for example—can easily pass the virus. While COVID-19 has not yet been found in vaginal fluid, it has been found in the feces of people who are infected. So this means that rimming (oral/anal contact) and anal sex may spread COVID-19 as well. Remember that condoms and dental dams reduce contact with saliva and feces during anal and oral sex or oral/anal contact.

A recent study has also found the coronavirus in semen, both in men who had active infections and those who had recovered, but it isn’t clear at this point if it can be sexually transmitted through semen.

What’s the risk?

So where does that leave us? With different levels of risk. Given we currently know about COVID-19 and how it’s transmitted, the safest sexual activity is solo or remote. Solo sex (a.k.a. masturbation) can be both satisfying and safe—just remember to wash your hands! And technology makes different types of remote options, like video chats, sexting, available too.

The next safest option is sex with someone you already live with, provided that person is also taking steps to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19 (like social distancing, hand washing, wearing a mask in public spaces).

Here are a few basic tips on how to enjoy sex and to avoid spreading COVID-19:

  • You are your safest sex partner. Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.
  • The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact—including sex—with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19. All partners should be consenting.
  • You should limit close contact—including sex—with anyone outside your household. If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible and pick partners you trust. Talk about COVID-19 risk like you would other safer sex topics (e.g. PrEP, condoms). So ask: do they have symptoms or have they had symptoms in the last 14 days? Have they been diagnosed with COVID-19? People are considered likely no longer infectious if at least 10 days have passed since the day their symptoms started and if they have not had fever for at least three days.
  • If you usually meet your sex partners online or make a living by having sex, consider taking a break from in-person dates. Video dates, sexting or chat rooms may be options for you.

For couples from whom pregnancy is a concern, don’t forget contraception as well. Once again, condoms (both internal and external) can fill that role, and telemedicine options are available as well, if you can’t venture out to a clinic or pharmacy.

Relationships Under Lockdown

Some of you may be thinking, “Sex?! Are you kidding? My partner is driving me crazy!” You’re not alone. Even couples with healthy, strong relationships may find themselves under strain during this time—struggling with being confined 24/7 under stay-at-home orders. Others may be pressed because of distance, forced to live apart due to health concerns or quarantine.

If you’re feeling stress, there are resources to help. You can get tips on how to respect and help one another and disagree fairly. If you need more support, you can find a counselor who can offer phone or online support.

A Note of Caution for Parents

With schools canceled across the country, many kids are spending more time online, possibly with less supervision than usual as parents are struggling to work remotely while caring for children. For this reason, law enforcement has warned that kids are particularly vulnerable to online predators at this time. Some reports suggest an increase in digital activity among sexual predators who target children.

So what can parents do? Talk to your kids about the risks and help them learn how to identify “red flag behavior” in people they may meet online, like asking for personal information or encouraging secrecy. Be an askable parent—willing to talk to your kids without judgement or shame.

Source link