be>AIDS: Protect

RUBBER UP BEFORE YOU GET DOWN

There are hundreds of different condoms out there, in a variety of colors, textures, lengths, widths, and thicknesses. We're not the fashion police, so if you wanna glow-in-the-dark go for it. The most important thing is that you put a hat on your head, and that you choose a brand that's made of latex or polyurethane (plastic). Toss the animal skin (or "natural") condoms, which aren't as effective in preventing HIV and other STDs. And it seems obvious, but make sure the condom isn't expired by checking the date on the label. If the condom is ripped or looks dry, brittle, stiff or sticky, don't use it. Which is why it's always good to keep a few spare condoms on hand, just in case.

When you're lubing up, remember: oil-based lubes like petroleum jellies (Vaseline), body lotions, mineral and vegetable oils, are major no-no's with latex condoms. Use water-based lubes instead for a smooth ride.

WHAT IF THE CONDOM BREAKS?

Accidents can and do happen, and if your condom breaks, slips, or leaks put a new one on asap. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, call a health care provider as soon as you can to see whether you should start on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). For more information about PEP, click here.

PROTECTING YOURSELF DURING ORAL SEX

We all love blow jobs. Gay, straight, bi, let's face it, BJ's are The Best. And rimjobs ain't too shabby, either. But even though the risk of HIV infection from unprotected oral sex is lower than from unprotected anal sex, it's still possible to transmit the virus that way. So it's smart to use a condom or other form of latex barrier, like a dental dam. when giving oral sex to prevent fluids from entering your mouth. And smart = sexy. Hey, intelligence is a turn-on for most people.