Can I get HIV from anal sex?

YES you can, and it is one of the riskiest way of getting HIV. The receptive partner (bottom) is riskier than the insertive partner (top), this is because the rectal lining is thin and may allow HIV to enter the body during sex.

The receptive partner (‘bottom’) is at risk of infection from HIV through seminal fluids (‘pre-cum‘) of the infected partner having in mind that the rectal tissue is delicate and easily damaged, which can give the virus direct access to the bloodstream.

The ‘top’ is also at risk of infection, as there are high levels of HIV in rectal secretions, as well as blood from the rectal tissues. This creates a risk of transmission to the ‘top’ through the urethra and on the head of the penis – particularly underneath the foreskin.

Although vaginal sex has a lower risk, and activities like oral sex, touching, and kissing carry little to no risk for getting or transmitting HIV, women can get HIV through anal sex as well.

In addition to HIV, a person can get other sexually transmitted Infections (STIs) like chlamydia and gonorrhea from anal sex without condoms. Even if a condom is used, some STIs can still be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact (like syphilis or herpes).

One can also get hepatitis and bacterial infections from anal sex without a condom because they’re transmitted through feces. Getting tested and treated for STIs reduces a person’s chances of getting or transmitting HIV through anal sex. If one has never had hepatitis A or B, there are vaccines to prevent them. A health care provider can make recommendations about vaccines.

It is very risky engaging in unprotected/condomless anal sex because of how fragile the rectal area is which allows the virus direct access into the bloodstream through tears and abrasions.

The use of condoms correctly and consistently is advised, proper and enough lubrication (water or silicone based) while engaging in anal sex, pre-exposure prophylaxis(PREP), post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV can reduce one’s risk of getting or transmitting HIV through anal sex.

Remember, sex is pleasurable when you know you are protected.

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LoveMatters Africa

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