(404) 874-8536 johnballew@gmail.com

Unsafe Sex

Statistics about HIV infection indicate that more than 30 years into the Era of AIDS, gay men –especially young gay men — continue to have unsafe sex and to become infected with HIV. What’s that all about?

Sexual desire is rarely a rational thing. Our minds tell us one thing; our libido tells us another. We attend that safer sex class and decide what level of risk we’re comfortable with. But there is other information, too: what about that article we read that seemed to say AIDS wasn’t any worse than diabetes or something? It’s confusing. Then we find ourselves in a sexual situation and find it’s not so easy to make those choices. We’ve had a bit too much to drink, or we’re really horny, or the guy we are with is especially hot. Whatever the reason, we find we’ve “slipped,” and now we’re anxious.

It’s useful to make a distinction between “unprotected” and “unsafe.” Sex can be unprotected and still be safe if you and your partner are both without any STD and engage in no risky behavior with anyone else. The problem here is trust. Are you comfortable betting your health on your ability to be honest with your partner and to trust him completely? What if one of you has sex outside the relationship — can you talk about it?

It’s also important to make a distinction between the fantasy of risky sex and reality. To fantasize about no-holds-barred sex can be an exploration of passion, eroticism and intimacy. Nothing wrong with that.

When one activist was asked why gay men continue to have unsafe sex his answer was simple: “It’s warm, it’s wet and it’s intensely human.” Using a condom every time sounds like a great strategy. It’s just very difficult to follow 100 percent of the time.

Each of us must assess what level of risk he’s comfortable with. Some men decide that smoking isn’t too risky for them, others wouldn’t consider it. Some men ride their motorcycles without a helmet; others wouldn’t ride a bike at all. Some men will decide that they wouldn’t have oral sex with a partner without using a condom, others will decide that anal sex without ejaculation is acceptable risk to them.

If you find yourself making decisions about what’s OK based solely on how hot your potential partner is, or how horny you are, or how high you are, it’s time to level with yourself. What circumstances cause you to want risky sex? When have you actually engaged in sex you’ve decided previously is too risky for you? When you wanted to have unsafe sex and didn’t, what stopped you?

Good sex is sex that you feel good about both when you are having it and afterwards. If you find yourself in situations that cause you to feel bad about yourself or about what you are doing, it’s time to take a look at what you are doing and to recommit yourself to sex that is both hot and healthy.

 John Ballew Counselor

About John

I have been  licensed by the State of Georgia as a professional counselor for more than 25 years.  My areas of specialty are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, anxiety and depression.  My passion is helping people build happier lives and stronger relationships. 

I know it isn’t always easy to talk about problems.  My approach to counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate.  If you have questions, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about working together.

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Whether you've worked with a therapist before or are exploring counseling for the first time, you probably have questions.  It is important to have the information you need to make a good decision when selecting a therapist.  I welcome your questions -- about your specific situation, about me or about my approach to therapy. Making things better can start with an email, or you can call me at (404) 874-8536.