Using a condom: 7 answers to common excuses

Condoms, if used correctly and consistently, are the only form of protection that can prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancy. If your partner has an excuse not to wear a condom, it’s NOT okay and you don’t have to accept their excuse. Here are 7 common excuses you’ve probably heard, and some responses to use.

Excuse 1: “It doesn’t feel as good with a condom”.

Response: “Using a condom will make me feel more relaxed, if I am more relaxed, I can make it feel better for you”.

If the condom feels uncomfortable, you could be using the wrong size. Condoms are available in different sizes, it’s just about finding the right fit. it’s a good idea to try out different brands and sizes until you find one that works for you and your partner.

Excuse 2: “I don’t have an infection, trust me”.

Response: “I trust you, but people can have infections without showing any symptoms, let us rather be safe than sorry”.

Not all STIs show visible symptoms, so it’s always a good idea to use a condom every time, to protect yourself.

Excuse 3: “I love you; can’t you do this for me”?

Response: “I love you too, but we need to protect ourselves and not risk our future. If you really love me, you will respect my decision”.

Being in a healthy relationship means that you’re mindful of your partner’s health and respect each other’s decisions.

Excuse 4: “Just this once”.

Response: “Once is all it takes”.

The risk of contracting an STI or facing an unplanned pregnancy can happen anytime you have sex, even if it’s your first time having sex.

Excuse 5: “I can’t feel anything with a condom”.

Response: “It may not feel better with a condom, but an STI will feel worse”

Wearing a condom can still feel good and be intimate. If your partner is concerned about not feeling anything, ultra-thin condoms are the way to go.

Excuse 6: “It interrupts our passion”.

Response: “Not if I help you put it on.”

You can always help your partner put the condom on as part of foreplay. The use of a female condom is ideal, as it can be inserted hours before sex. This will prevent any interruptions. Just remember NOT to use a female and male condom together at once. Wearing one condom is good enough.

Excuse 7: “I don’t have a condom”.

Response: “I do!”.

It’s important for women to take control and share the responsibility of carrying condoms. This shows that you care about your health and your future. Female condoms are a great choice. It’s always a good idea to be responsible for your own protection and have your own condoms when your partner doesn’t have one.

Using a condom is all about responsibility and having respect for one another. You have the right to protect yourself and your health. Knowing how to respond to your partner about using a condom can protect you from STIs and unplanned pregnancy. 

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

 

What is the dual protection method?

No method of contraception is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy, but some are more reliable in reducing your chances of falling pregnant and contracting STIs. The dual protection method prevents against falling pregnant while also protecting you against STIs, including HIV. Here’s more.

When people don’t know how the dual protection method works, they’re more likely to experience unplanned pregnancy or STI infection. This method involves using a male/female condom, which is used to prevent STI infection and pregnancy, with another highly effective contraceptive method, like the pill, patch, IUD or injection, which further prevents unplanned pregnancy. The method makes sure you’ve got extra protection.

Why should you consider this method?

Many couples stop using condoms once they’ve been committed to each other for a while. Some believe this is a sign of deeper intimacy and trust, but I strongly advise against this, Choma. Trust has nothing to do with the importance of protecting yourself and your health.

Regardless of your relationship status, or the nature of your relationship, it’s important to think about using condoms and a contraceptive method to protect yourself against unplanned/unwanted pregnancy and STIs. This method also gives you peace of mind, knowing that you’re doing the best you can to protect yourself.

Hormonal birth control is currently the most effective, reversible method of birth control when used correctly, but it only has an average percentage of 92% in terms of effectiveness when used alone, and condoms are only 98% effective, when used alone.

Using a condom with a birth control method like the pill, IUD, patch or injection, ensures that you’re protected in situations where you may miss a dose. It’s also important to make sure you get tested for pregnancy, STIs and HIV if either contraceptive method fails.

Using the dual contraceptive method can protect you and your partner against unplanned pregnancies and STI infection. Condoms and certain types of contraceptives are easily available at local clinics for free. You can always talk to your healthcare provider about your contraceptive options. Protecting yourself and your partner should always be a priority, so use a condom every single time you have sex, no matter what your partner says. After all, safe sex is the best sex.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Should you wear a condom with bae?

The answer is a definite yes, Choma. Unprotected sex can be risky, even in a committed relationship. That’s why it’s always important to take the necessary steps to protect your health and communicate with your partner about your expectations and boundaries. Talking about condoms and contraceptives before having sex can help you each voice your concerns and learn to use condoms properly. Here’s why you should use condoms with bae.

Preventing unplanned pregnancy

When you’re in a relationship, not using a condom may seem like the easier option but if you or your partner are not on any other form of birth control, there’s a high risk of falling pregnant. If you and your partner are not ready for a baby, then I recommend that you use condoms every time you have sex, no matter how steamy the moment might be.

Protection against HIV/STI infections

Did you know that some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) don’t show any symptoms at all? This means if you or your partner have more than one sexual partner, it puts you at high risk of contracting an STI or HIV. Using a condom is the best way to protect your own sexual health. Remember, you can also get some STIs from oral sex, so it’s important to use a condom or dental dam when engaging in oral sex.

Total peace of mind

Sex can be fun, but it comes with the risks of pregnancy and STIs. Condoms are the only method of contraception that protects against both STIs and unplanned pregnancy. Condoms offer protection to both partners and choosing to use them shows that you respect and care for your partner. Protecting each other from STIs and unplanned pregnancy is a shared responsibility, so you both need to be able to talk openly  about using condoms or consider using the dual protection method. 

The benefits of using condoms

Both female and male condoms are designed to allow for safe and enjoyable sex. These are some of the benefits:

Condoms do not have side effects like other forms of birth control do. Even though some people may be allergic to latex condoms, the reaction usually take about 24 hours to go away.

Condoms are freely available and at no cost at public clinics, and some pharmacies.

Condoms come in all styles, colours, flavours, and textures while maximizing pleasure.

Condoms can add extra protection to almost all other birth control methods, like the pill, shot, ring, IUD, and implant. No method is 100% effective, so adding condoms as backup helps you prevent pregnancy if your other method fails.

Just remember that one condom is enough, you don’t need to wear more than one condom at a time.

Your health should be your top priority if you’re sexually active. Having safe sex is about being responsible and showing respect in your relationship. You have the right to protect yourself and your health by using a condom correctly and consistently. You deserve to have peace of mind and to not be pressured into having sex without a condom, so talk to bae and make sure that condoms become part of your relationship.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Should you be on PrEP?

If you’re sexually active, HIV negative and at a high risk of contracting the virus i.e. in a sexual relationship with someone who is HIV positive, having unprotected sex or sleeping with multiple partners (which I don’t encourage, Choma) then you should consider being on PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis)

How does it work?

If you’re taking PrEP as instructed and you happen to get exposed to HIV, then there’ll be high levels of the medication in your body that’ll prevent you from getting HIV. You have to take the pill once a day with or without food and it’s recommended that you take it around the same time daily. If you miss the pill, all you have to do is take it immediately but remember, you can’t take more than one at the same time. PrEP takes 7 days before it works, once you start taking it. It’s important to remember that PrEP doesn’t cure HIV but it decreases your chances of getting it.

Who can take PrEP?

PrEP is prescribed to HIV-negative adults and adolescents who are at high risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use. For example, if your partner is HIV positive and you are trying for a baby, then your healthcare provider may prescribe PrEP.

Why should you consider PrEP?

PrEP is highly effective when taken as advised by a healthcare provider. The pill is taken once daily and reduces the risk of you getting HIV from sex by more than 90%, and among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%.

Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms (which I highly advise). It’s also safe to use since there are no major side effects that have been seen in people who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for up to 5 years. Some people taking PrEP have reported some side effects, like nausea, but these are usually not serious and go away over time.

Where can you get PrEP?

If you think PrEP may be right for you, then you can visit your nearest government clinic or doctor so that you can get a PrEP prescription. Since PrEP is for people who are HIV-negative, you’ll have to get an HIV test before starting PrEP and you may need to get other tests to make sure it’s safe for you to use the medication. If you take PrEP, you’ll need to see your health provider every 3 months for repeat HIV tests, prescription refills, and follow-ups.

Remember Choma, PrEP only reduces your chances of getting infected with HIV, it doesn’t prevent you from getting STIs or against unplanned pregnancies. So, I’d highly advise you to always use a condom even if you’re on PrEP. Remember that your sexual health is entirely in your hands, take responsibility for it and make sure that you do all you can to stay sexually healthy. Reduce risk by staying informed and taking action towards a healthy lifestyle.

If you need more information or help, you can contact me on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Safe sexual health tips to know these holidays

I’ve spoken about prevention methods in the past, but this is just to refresh your memory and remind you to be extra cautious during the holidays.

Drink responsibly

If you are planning to go out and have fun, avoid drinking too much. You want to be in total control of your mind and your decisions, so try not to drink to a point where you are unable to control your actions. You should also stay away from other drugs as they may also affect your ability to control yourself.

Getting drunk to the point of passing out can also make you a target for sexual predators as they may think you will be easy to overpower, and you might not be able to escape risky situations if you are not 100% alert. We live in a scary world, Choma, so for your own safety, be very careful when it comes to alcohol.

Carry condoms

Your sexual health is your responsibility, so don’t take any risks by allowing yourself to be in the heat of the moment with your sexual partner, with no condoms. Make sure you always carry protection. 

Talk to your partner about sexual health

In some cases, people with STIs have no symptoms. It is also possible for a person to have an STI with no symptoms and then pass it on to others without knowing it. Communicate openly with your partner about getting tested and make sure that you use condoms every time you have sex.

Don’t be afraid to say NO

If you are not ready to have sex with someone, or if they are trying to convince you to have unprotected sex, then you have the right to say ‘no’. Don’t be afraid to refuse something, even if everyone is doing it.

STI’s can be prevented. Make sure you have safe sex, avoid having multiple sexual partners and be cautious with alcohol use, especially during the festive season.

Got a question? or your friend needs advice or help? You can contact me on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Vertical vs horizontal HIV transmission

HIV transmission is a big health concern. In adults, the main routes of transmission can be horizontal whilst in kids, it is mostly vertical. You might be asking, so what does that even mean, and what is the difference between the two? Here’s a breakdown.

Vertical transmission

Vertical transmission of HIV means passing the virus from mother to child. This can happen during pregnancy, while the baby is in the placenta in the mother’s womb, or through direct contact during and after the birth of the baby.

Because of the advancement that the world has made with regards to HIV/AIDS, it is very possible for a woman living with HIV not to pass on the virus to her unborn child. This can be prevented through what’s called Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes. These programmes enable women living with HIV to stay healthy and to continue taking their medication so their unborn babies don’t get infected during birth.

Horizontal transmission

Horizontal transmission of HIV is also known as secondary transmission because the spread of the virus mainly happens during sex or the sharing of a contaminated object like a needle, for instance. This simply means that the virus can be transmitted through vaginal fluid, semen, or the blood of someone who is already living with HIV.  Most of the time, people might think that dating someone who is living with HIV is dangerous because you might get infected through sexual intimacy. However, your risk when sleeping with a partner who has HIV is totally dependent on whether your partner living with HIV takes their medication (ARVs) on a daily basis or not and if you use a condom during sex. By doing that, your chances of being infected remain quite low.

Something important to note is that if someone takes their medication regularly, they could get to the point where they are undetectable and therefore have a very low chance of spreading the virus. Read here to find out what it means to be undetectable. Remember though, being undetectable doesn’t mean you should stop taking treatment or using condoms, because they can still prevent other STIs or unplanned pregnancy.

So that’s the difference between vertical and horizontal HIV transmission. It’s a lot less complicated than it sounds, which is why it’s so important to do your research on safe sex and HIV. You’ll find that something you thought was overwhelming, actually isn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak to your healthcare provider – you are well within your rights to do so.

You can also speak to me, privately. You can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

What is PEP? 

Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is the process of taking antiretroviral medication (ART) as soon as possible after potential exposure, in order to prevent the possibility of being infected with HIV. It is an emergency treatment for HIV and it’s a short course of antiretroviral medication that can stop HIV infection if they are taken properly.

How do I take PEP?

It is recommended that you take PEP within 72 hours of a possible infection because it is most effective at preventing HIV infection. Unfortunately, you cannot take PEP after 72 hours of possible exposure, so every hour counts.  When you are on PEP, you will be advised to take the medication at the same time every day for 4 weeks.

You can’t take PEP if you’re already living with HIV or if you want to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or other STIs.

When should I test for HIV after PEP?

Taking PEP in order to prevent HIV exposure doesn’t mean that you are in the clear. It’s important to get tested after using PEP to make sure the treatment was successful. Get tested 3 months after potential exposure, and then again after 6 months.

Your healthcare provider might also test for STIs and pregnancy (if you’re a woman) so you can take the morning after pill – so it’s important to ask about these tests so you can get the necessary help.

Who can take PEP?

PEP is mostly recommended for victims of sexual assault, possible exposure at work (occupational exposure) or if you have shared a needle or been exposed to sharp object with blood on it. Remember, it has to be taken within 72 hours.

Where can I get PEP?

Because PEP is a drug that is meant to prevent possible exposure to HIV, it is not easily available everywhere. It is mostly available at your nearest clinic, from your doctor or any healthcare provider. If you’re in a situation where you need PEP – like when the clinic is closed on a weekend, then you can go to your nearest hospital to get it.

Being aware of different ways to prevent being exposed to HIV is very important Choma. Don’t be shy to ask about PEP or any other HIV-related information because knowledge is power. 

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657). 

Choma Loves: 4 HIV awareness programmes 

HIV is one virus that has a bad stigma attached to it. But unlike the olden days, HIV treatment has advanced throughout the years and it gives people living with the virus a chance to live longer and lead healthy lives.

Because of the history behind HIV, a lot of people are still not comfortable with having conversations about HIV or learning about it. But there are organisations dedicated to helping people understand HIV, get treatment and decrease stigma. Here are 4 amazing organisations that are dedicated to educating and creating awareness around HIV. 

NACOSA 

National Aids Convention of South Africa (NACOSA) is made up of a network of over 1800 organisations that work together towards a common goal –  which is to change people’s perspectives about HIV through creating a dialogue with accredited training centres, mentoring and offering technical assistance to help the youth. 

UNAIDS

UNAIDS is one of the leading global organisations that are working tirelessly towards reaching their Sustainable Development Goals of ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by the year 2030. One of their goals is to stop new HIV infections by ensuring that people living with HIV have access to HIV treatment so they can maintain the infection and stay undetectable – thus preventing the spread of the virus. Visit their website to learn more about their work.  

The AIDS foundation of SA 

The AIDS foundation of SA is the first AIDS Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that was registered in South Africa back in 1988. 

Their work is aligned to UNAID’s 90-90-90 global target which challenges countries to achieve the following goals: 

  • 90% of all living with HIV should receive ARV treatment 
  • 90% of all people living with HIV should know their status 
  • 90% of people receiving ARV therapy should have viral suppression

HIVSA Training centre 

HIV SA prides itself in empowering people, organisations and community workers to address socio-economic and health-related issues like HIV – with the main goal of creating an HIV-free generation. 

They also offer accredited and non-accredited courses for healthcare workers and they have a few projects (like Choma Magazine) that aim to educate and empower young people, as well as create awareness about HIV.

These are just a few organisations that are dedicated to fighting the prevalence of HIV. As hard as they may work towards reaching these goals, they can’t do it on their own. So I want to challenge you to create awareness by helping others understand the importance of an HIV-free generation. You can start by sharing my articles with your friends and family, and tell them to share with others.

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

4 Types of HIV tests

You’ve probably seen adverts or campaigns about the importance of knowing your HIV status, and yes knowing your status is very important but have you ever wondered if there are different types of HIV tests? Well, yes, there are Choma. Here are the 4 types of HIV tests that exist. 

Antibody test

When you get sick, your body starts producing specific antibodies (proteins that attach to the virus) that will try to fight off the virus. The antibody test looks for these antibodies in your oral fluid, urine or blood, and if these HIV antibodies are detected – that means your body is reacting to the infection. You should also do a second test to confirm your results. These tests can be finger-prick tests or blood/urine samples sent to a laboratory.

The only downside with this test is that it’s only accurate 3 months after exposure and it can take a few days to a few weeks to get the results. The time between infection and when your body makes antibodies is called the ‘window period’.

Combined antibody/antigen test

This test is also known as the 4th generation test. It looks for HIV antibodies as well as the p24 (short for protein 24) antigens. The p24 antigens are part of the virus and can be detected in your blood within the first few weeks after you have been infected. Unlike the antibody test, this one can detect the virus within a month after you have been infected and it usually takes a few days or weeks to get the results. 

Self-testing kits

HIV self-testing kits allow you to test whenever or wherever you want, even in the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the pack and you can get your results within 20 minutes. However, a positive result from this test isn’t enough to confirm whether you’re HIV positive or not, so it’s highly recommended that you visit your nearest healthcare provider so they can confirm the results for you, assist you with starting your treatment and offer you counselling. 

Rapid tests

Have you ever seen tents in your community where they offer finger-prick tests? They are called rapid HIV tests. They look for HIV antibodies by taking a prick of blood from your finger and they are usually accurate three months after being exposed to HIV. You can get the results within 20 mins, and if it’s a positive result – the healthcare provider doing the test will have to double-check by doing a second test. 

The uncertainty that comes with testing for HIV can make you feel uneasy and afraid of testing – especially with the myths and stigma attached to HIV. But the truth is, knowing your HIV status is the best decision that you can make for yourself. Don’t be afraid to get tested for HIV!

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, don’t hesitate to contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657). 

 

What is PrEP?

When HIV was first discovered, it was viewed with a lot of fear and seen as a deadly disease, even in the medical field . Thankfully, with all the advancement in research and medication, the virus can be prevented and managed better. PrEP is HIV prevention treatment. Here’s more on it: 

What is it?  

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a course of HIV medication that is taken by HIV-negative people to reduce their likelihood of getting infected with HIV. It comes in the form of a pill that is a combination of 300mg of tenofovir and 200mg emtricitabine. 

How does it work?

If you’re taking PrEP as instructed and you happen to get exposed to HIV, then there will be high levels of the medication in your body that will prevent you from getting HIV. You have to take the pill once a day with or without food and it’s recommended that you take it around the same time daily. If you miss the pill, all you have to do is take it immediately but remember, you can’t take more than one at the same time. It is important to remember that PrEP does not cure HIV.

Is it effective? 

Yes. PrEP is highly effective in reducing your chances of getting infected with HIV if it is taken correctly. Even though PrEP helps prevent the likelihood of an HIV infection, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop using condoms because it will not prevent an unwanted pregnancyor other STIs. To prevent STIs, remember to always use a condom. It is also advisable that you have an HIV test every 3 months.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects that you can get from PrEP are: 

  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Change in appetite
  • Sleeping problems
  • Depression
  • Rash

But most of these side effects go away after a few weeks when your body gets used to the medication. If they don’t, then it is highly recommended that you go see your healthcare provider for assistance.

Who can use PrEP? 

Even though PrEP is meant for HIV negative people, it is usually recommended for people who are more at risk of getting infected with HIV. Here are a few examples:

  • If you’re in a sexual relationship with a partner who is living with HIV
  • Men who have sex with men – and hardly use condoms
  • You are not using condoms with your partner and you don’t know their status (Big NO Choma)
  • You live a high-risk lifestyle like sharing injecting objects for drugs or you have multiple sex partners

Where can I get PrEP?

You can get PrEP at your local healthcare provider or you can ask your doctor about where you can get it.

As you can see Choma, it is important that you keep yourself educated about the different ways that you can prevent getting infected with HIV so that you can contribute towards an HIV-free generation. Don’t forget to share this article with your loved ones so they can also spread awareness about PrEP.

In the meantime, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can always contact me here on Ask Choma send me a Facebook Message, an Instagram DM, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).