sex

STIs are skyrocketing and condoms could literally save your life.

In 2007, six weeks into the start of a new relationship, Godfrey Zaburoni convince his girlfriend to have unprotected sex.

We’ve all heard the reasons – It feels better for both of us, I love you and just want to be close to you, It really is safe, I know what I’m doing.

Zaburoni told his girlfriend that he did not have HIV. Even though he had been diagnosed with the virus nine years earlier.

When she tested HIV-positive, his girlfriend took him to court and Zaburoni was sentenced to nine years in jail for ‘intentionally transmitting a serious disease’.

This verdict was overturned earlier this year, when the High Court ruled that ‘intent’ could not be proven and substituted a lesser verdict of grievous bodily harm.

What should we take from this verdict?

The risks of unprotected sex can be much greater than an unplanned pregnancy.

Too often condoms are considered solely for contraception. This is seen in the fact that more than half of the young women who take the contraceptive pill do not use condoms. Not to mention the definite upswing of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in the baby boomer generation, where pregnancy is out of the question.

Why don’t we like condoms?

Young people don’t like using condoms. A 2013 survey found only 43.4% of sexually active high school students reported always using a condom; 39% sometimes used condoms; and 13% never used them.

Older generations also don’t like using condoms. Incidences of sexually transmitted disease chlamydia in women aged 40-59 doubled in Australia between 2004 and 2010.

There are several possible reasons for this. One revolves around contraception:

“If I’m on the pill, or can’t fall pregnant, I don’t need to use a condom, right?”

The Zabonuri case is a harsh reminder that this definitely is not the case.

Other potential reasons for our aversion to condoms might include: they’re thought to impede sexual pleasure; reaching for a condom might ruin the ‘heat of the moment’; or, maybe we don’t feel comfortable having that discussion with our partners.

Image via iStock. [/img_caption]

So how can we fix this?

Definitely, honesty is key. The best way to ensure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to using condoms during sex is through open, honest, no-room-for-misinterpretation discussion.

Ideally, it's best to open the conversation about using condoms before you're anywhere near close to having sex. By making your position clear early on (while you both still have your clothes on), there won't be any misunderstanding when it things do get hot and heavy.

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But what about those situations where you are already in 'the moment' and there is no condom in sight – maybe you haven't had the discussion, maybe the 'moment' is unexpected, or maybe your partner is keen to try unprotected sex?

There are a number of possible ways this can go down. And the NSW government have put forward various situations and several responses that can help keep you safe in these situations.

For example:

They say: I’ll pull out with plenty of time
You say: As soon as you’re in, it’s too late

They say: They don’t make condoms big enough
You say: Don’t worry, they stretch! I can’t wait to see that!

They say: They’re such a passion killer
You say: Don’t worry, I’m creative

They say: We’re monogamous, we don’t need them
You say: How about we get tested first

They say: If you loved me you’d agree
You say: If you loved me you’d wear one

They say: I don’t have a condom with me
You say: OK let’s go get some

This is useful. To have a rally of responses to help keep you safe in sex is something that's helpful and worthwhile.

But it also begs the question: Who are these men who will play dumb, use guilt games or downright manipulate you into having unprotected sex?

If you'd love me, you'd agree – what is that?

Asking someone to wear a condom will help protect you against STIs, as well as unplanned pregnancy. But the 'condom conversation' can also help you determine if the guy you're about to get your rocks off with is genuinely concerned about your safety and well-being – or if he's totally inconsiderate and doesn't deserve you.

A discussion around using condoms is necessary to stay safe and maintain a healthy, sustainable sexual life. If this conversation is a problem for your partner, the act itself should be an impossibility.

The Zaburoni case is the worst example of the consequences of unprotected sex. This verdict should act as a reminder that condoms are not just for contraception, and that the risks of unprotected sex reach much farther than an unplanned pregnancy.

Most importantly, this case should remind us that we should always feel comfortable discussing and insisting upon our safety, comfort and health when we are having sex.

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