Dr Sindi Says Valentines Day

“Cupid’s arrow had struck the right spot in my heart! Who would have guessed that love could feel so wonderful. My tummy was in knots. Valentine’s Day was coming up and I had planned a very special dinner for two. Dessert was going to be chocolate paint…all over me. But first I needed to go and buy a packet of female condoms and make sure that I inserted one on Valentine’s morning.”

How many romantic stories have you ever read that included safer sex? None? I thought so.

Love is in the air and some of you are planning on taking your relationship to the next level. This could be kissing, necking, heavy petting, or even sexual intercourse. Whatever your plan is – you need to understand that loving and trusting someone does not exempt you from taking precautions. When you embark on a new relationship with someone, you spend time getting to know them. You want to know what makes them laugh or cry, what makes them happy and so on. As time goes on, you may be curious about how they kiss. That curiosity should extend to their sexual history too. Gone are the days of assumptions. It is a simple case of “if you don’t ask, you won’t know.”

Couples counselling and testing for HIV is available at most health facilities and I encourage you to go for the test – together. Do not rely on hearsay. Be in the same room as your partner and take the HIV test – together.

The point of testing before you embark on a sexual relationship is so that you can make informed decisions – together. It has nothing to do with love or trust. It has everything to do with taking responsibility for your lives – together. HIV is not the only reason for the safer sex discussion. There are other STIs Sexually Transmitted Infections to think about and not all STIs are transmitted via penetrative sexual intercourse. Flavoured condoms are a cool and funky way of having safer oral sex. Sit down as a couple and have a frank discussion about this. Make the decision to use condoms now and manage that decision daily. Do not leave this decision for the heat of the moment.

Happy Valentine’s Day!