Sexual Practices and STDs

Part III

Sexual Practices and STDs

Different sexual practices carry different degrees of risk of contracting the AIDS virus. Receptive (passive) anal intercourse is the riskiest, because this may damage the anal and rectal membranes and allow the AIDS virus to enter the bloodstream. The passive partner is at a much higher risk of contracting the AIDS virus than the active partner, although gonorrhea and syphilis can be transmitted from the passive partner's rectum. Most studies have focused on male homosexuals, but heterosexual anal sex probably carries the same risk.

Heterosexual vaginal intercourse, particularly with multiple partners, also carries a risk of contracting AIDS. The virus is believed to be transmitted more easily from the man to the woman than vice versa. This type of sex is how most other STDs are transmitted.

Oral/genital sex is a possible (though probably uncommon) means of transmission of the AIDS virus. However, inserting the penis in the mouth (fellatio) with ejaculation and swallowing of semen is the most common cause of throat gonorrhea, and oral contact with the clitoris and vaginal opening (cunnilingus) is a frequent method of transmission of the herpes virus.

Herpes is probably the only disease that can be contracted by light (dry) kissing, but deep (French) kissing may transmit other STDs. Activities that involve only skin-to-skin contact, (such as hugging, massage and mutual masturbation) with little or no exposure to body fluids, do not spread disease.