Intimate Communication

Frank Discussion

Public health officials are urging the public to have intimate discussions about sex for the purpose of preventing AIDS. The theory is that in order to prevent AIDS you need to talk about AIDS. Such frank discussion can be embarrassing or difficult and little research has been done on the subject of how partners discuss their sexual histories.

For now, studies focus on the nature of such discussions and how often these conversations take place among college students in heterosexual relationships.

To this end, college students filled out open-ended questions as part of a larger survey. Two thirds of the heterosexual and sexually active respondents said they discussed AIDS with their partners, but only one third of those who engaged in such discussion had talked about safe sex techniques. Only 6 percent of the survey's participants had dared talk with their partners about using condoms. That means that very few students talk about AIDS as a precursor to the subject of condom use.  

The results of this study tell us that we shouldn't assume that discussing AIDS with a sexual partner leads to AIDS prevention. This is telling for health officials and educators who need to realize that teaching people to talk about AIDS has to include the goal of obtaining a partner's willingness to use a condom.

As a result of this study, future research will study the relationship between the discussion of AIDS and condom use. Strategies for minimizing the discomfort and embarrassment of such discussion would be a good track for public health officials to investigate and should be part and parcel of AIDS research.

Discussion between prospective sexual partners needs to include the sexual histories of both partners and the determination of whether or not either partner has a sexually transmitted disease (STD). You may wish to rehearse the question in your mind in advance of the discussion so that you feel more prepared when it comes time to ask: Have you tested clean for STDs?

It may be over simplistic to state that if you don't feel comfortable talking with a potential partner about sex, then maybe you shouldn't have sex at all. It seems sensible to state instead that until partners have had that discussion, comfortable or not, sex should remain verboten.

Nothing But the Truth

Use your feminine intuition to scent out liars and don't have sex with someone who doesn't seem to be telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth about their sexual health and history.

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