Yes, we do get oversaturated with condom-use messages, but there is no discussion about the fact that condoms are the most effective way to reduce the risk of catching or passing on HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
A third of guys who participated in the PASH study said using condoms would make them or their partner lose their erections. Despite this, most gay men will use condoms most of the time, but not all do so constantly.
Some men will use other risk-reduction techniques such as withdrawal, strategic positioning, serosorting or undetectable viral load. I wrote about risk reduction in September and you can find out more about it at www.whereversexhappens.com
Going back to the good old condom, yes, we don’t like him and he was imposed, but he is still our friend and can prove to be very useful.
What do we do for friends? We give them second chances and try to understand them and, as they say, try to walk in their shoes.
I’m not asking you to pretend you are latex and jump on the first penis you see, but instead of putting up with condoms with regret at least get to know them better and find the right one for you.
What are condoms made of?
There are latex condoms and for guys with a suspected allergy to rubber, there are non-latex options. They both work if used with plenty of lube. It is not advisable to use oil-based lube with latex condoms as it deteriorates latex and the condom can break, which defeats the purpose of using condoms in the first place.
Does one size fit all?
Penises can vary from one guy to the next in sizes and shapes, so the short answer is simple: No. A different size can be more comfortable and not all sizes are the same — sizes vary between brands as well.
Can condoms offer more than protection?
Condoms are designed with different textures, flavours or added products to enhance sensations and make sex more pleasurable.
Do they deliver what is being advertised?
It depends on who you ask — for some guys it works, for others it’s just marketing.
Shop around, get some different condoms and test them. If trying them with someone else is a turn-off, try them on your own by masturbating with the condom on.
You can get condoms at VAC/GMHC at very reasonable prices. Contact VAC/GMHC on 03 9865 6700 or visit www.vicaids.asn.au
For a greater range of condoms and lubes, visit the friendly people at your nearest adult shop.
By CARLOS SEPULVEDA
Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre