The Man2Man Programme have released new guidelines for reducing the risk of COVID-19 while having sex.
On August 27, the national HIV Prevention & Sexual Health Awareness programme, Man2Man, published a comprehensive and informative guide on sex amid COVID-19. In response to the pandemic, their advice provides insightful recommendations on safe sexual health practices.
As it reads on the Man2Man website, “Sex is a vital part of our lives and recognised as an important part of maintaining mental and physical health. Stopping or adjusting your regular sexual patterns may be challenging and problematic. The following guidelines have been created to help you to make changes to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.”
https://t.co/IMrySmMPNF has created guidelines to help you make changes to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19. Please take some time to read, hold firm and stay safe. Click the following link: https://t.co/FenWjNlaV0 #StaySafe #WearACondom #washyourhands pic.twitter.com/Eimps8f81R
— Man2Man Programme (@Man2ManIreland) August 27, 2020
The Man2Man guidelines address when to avoid sex, risk reduction, protection, sexual health services, and other resources available. Over on the guideline website, it outlines:
- If you decide to be sexually active with someone living outside of your household, limit it to as few partners as possible, preferably one regular partner.
- Remember close sexual contact with anyone you are not living with can put you and others at risk of coronavirus.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before sexual activity.
- Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like ‘glory hole’ walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face-to-face contact.
- Consider non face-to-face quickies. The longer (more than 15 minutes) you are in close contact with someone else the more chances of passing or getting COVID-19.
Regarding safe sex pratices, some advice given in the guidelines state:
- Always use a condom. Condoms give the best protection against STIs and are 98% effective when you use them correctly and every time you have sex.
- Use condoms to reduce contact with saliva or faeces, especially during oral or anal sex.
- Wear a face covering or mask. During COVID-19 wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth is a good way to add a layer of protection during sex. Heavy breathing and panting can spread the virus further, and if you or your sex partner have COVID-19 and don’t know it, a face covering can help prevent spreading the virus.
- PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medication that can help prevent HIV transmission if you are HIV negative and at substantial risk of acquiring HIV.
- PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) — If you have been recently exposed to HIV, PEP is a course of HIV medication that can help to prevent HIV infection. This is available through public STI clinics and in Emergency Departments.
Man2Man’s guidelines also details sexual consent and provides resources available. It provides a link to further advice, titled, What To Do If… There Was No Consent?, which states, “Consent should be freely given, enthusiastic, clearly communicated and ongoing throughout. Never assume consent.”
These are some of the helpful tips and advice available over at the Man2Man website. Throughout lockdown, there has been a vocal exploration into the impact of COVID-19 on interpersonal relations, such as sex.
In March, Senator Fintan Warfield shared sexual health advice while socially distancing. He said, “Social distancing applies to hook ups and sex. So explore other ways to satisfy your needs,” he said. “Phone sex, cam-sex, reading erotica, watching porn or just plain old masturbation.”
Director of MPOWER programme, Adam Shanley, also published advice on looking after sexual health during COVID-19. He wrote, “It’s not an easy transition to make, but instead of sex, you could use this time as an opportunity to explore other things that can satisfy your needs.”
As part of GCN’s In and Out Festival, Shanley was in conversation with psychotherapist and counsellor Sarah Gilligan about LGBT+ sex during the COVID-19 pandemic. They spoke on how to stay safe, expressing oneself, and the impact it has on a person’s emotional, mental and physical health.
The Man2Man guidelines also suggest checking out SpunOut’s in-depth guidance on how to keep safe while online. It can be found at this link.
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