Maybe Bi

Friday, April 07, 2006

Question

I am a married man. But I like to touch other men. Is hugging, French kissing, and anal fingering safe of not getting AIDS?

Answer

There are a lot of sexually-transmitted diseases other than AIDS, which is caused by HIV, the human immuno-deficiency virus. STDs that are caused by bacteria (like gonorrhea and syphilis) can be treated with antibiotics, although these infections are showing resistance to treatment. When a virus is sexually transmitted, we can't eliminate it from the system. So herpes, hepatitis, anal warts, and HIV are all a serious problem.

Hugging is generally a safe activity. But casual (skin-to-skin) contact with a person who is a carrier of hepatitis-B can transmit that virus. However, it usually takes blood-to-blood contact (like sharing needles) or penetrative sex to spread hepatitis B. Skin-to-skin contact with the rash of a person in the final or tertiary stages of syphilis can give you the disease, but this is rare nowadays.

There are two types of herpes. One usually causes sores on the mouth, while the second usually causes genital sores. But both have been known to invade the other's territory. So you shouldn't kiss anyone with a cold sore, and avoid contact between any open sore and your mucous membranes. (These line the mouth, the vagina, and the rectum.)

You probably can't get gonorrhea by doing the activities you mention. Syphilis can be spread in its initial stages if there is contact with a painless sore (called a chancre) that marks the site where the spirochete entered the body. Chancres can be found on the anus or inside the rectum if that person has contracted syphilis. But these diseases are usually spread during oral sex or vaginal or anal intercourse.

Anal warts look like cauliflower-shaped, pink masses. They can appear on the genitals, around the anus, inside the rectum, and even inside the urethra. Examine your partners to make sure they are free of such growths. Touching these areas and then touching yourself can spread the warts. However, once more, anal warts are much more easily and more often spread during oral sex or intercourse.

The worst thing you can probably get from kissing is herpes. But many people have been exposed to this virus already, when their grandmas had a cold sore and kissed them for being cute little kids. If you wash your hands after you finger your partner's anus (and before you touch yourself), there is only a slight risk of transmitting anything to your own body. Using a latex glove and some lubricant when you finger him would make this a very safe activity. Add some lubricant to make it more comfortable and fun, as well.

I hope I have not frightened you away from your man-to-man fun by giving you the information above. Compared to most of the guys who engage in casual public sex, you are being very safe. But for the sake of accuracy, I have to report even unusual or odd ways in which STDs can be spread.

You can increase your odds of staying healthy by maneuvering your partners into the light so you can examine them for bumps, warts, or sores. Put a tiny flashlight on your key ring and use that, if full light is not available. Sniff his body or genitals to make sure he is clean. Avoid people who appear to be on drugs or drunk. People used to exchange phone numbers so they could contact one another if anybody came down with an STD, but given your situation, that may not be practical or desirable.

Please write again if you have any other questions about sex with other men—or anybody else.