ATLANTA, G.A, December 14, 2022 — As part of its mission, StopHIVATL delivers sexual health and harm reduction resources to communities in metro Atlanta counties. Our monthly newsletter encompasses a range of topics to advance our mission of providing judgment-free, grassroots information to Black and Brown folks, LGBTQ+ individuals, and those with substance relationships.
To encourage sex positivity and avoid stigma, it is important to seek queer-inclusive sex education and information from reliable sources. Ending the stigma about conversations around sex leads to healthier relationships with sex itself. When folks have the information they need to demystify sexual practices and debunk harmful myths, they are likelier to shamelessly enjoy their sex life and provide informed consent. StopHIVATL wants those who engage in sex to know the truth about these following sex myths to promote sex positivity within their circles.
Myth: Bottoming/Penetration Happen Spontaneously During Anal Sex
Often, people believe that bottoming—or being penetrated during anal sex—happens with little to no preparation. While this may be possible, it is not entirely safe. Without the proper care, anal play could result in blood-fluid contact, pain, and cuts. Risk reduction during anal sex includes using lubricant and barrier methods like condoms.
Myth: Anal Sex, Oral Sex, or Fondling “Don’t Count” As Sex
While consensual anal, oral, or sexual acts involving hands or other body parts may not be perceived as conventional intercourse, they most certainly “count” as sex to those who want to perceive it as a sexual activity. However, sex means different things to different people. So, your previous experiences and boundaries may influence what you perceive as sex. The basic rule of thumb should be the following: if it leads to pleasure and the exchange of bodily fluids through consensual means, it can be sex.
Myth: Media Reflects Real-Life Sex
Movies, social media, and even pornography can portray sex in an unrealistic light. Media often imposes heteronormative, ableist, fatphobic, and overall unrealistic expectations about people’s bodies and how they must behave in their sex lives. Although media influences the sex lives and expectations of many, it is essential to look inward, explore your own tastes and interests, and practice body positivity.
Myth: People With Disabilities Cannot Have Sex
Assuming that people with disabilities cannot enjoy a full, consensual, and exciting sex life is ableist. People with disabilities can enjoy sex as long as they are able to voice consent.
Myth: People With Vaginas Cannot Transmit STIs or STDs
Although a common myth, even among those in the LGBTQ+ community, people with vaginas may contract and transmit STIs and STDs through unprotected sexual contact. STIs are transmitted through many ways, including skin-to-skin contact, oral-genital stimulation, and contaminated toys. Safe sex practices include using barrier methods, such as condoms and dental dams, and testing for STIs and STDs, such as HIV.
Myth: You Can “Pop” A “Cherry”
Folks with vaginas are typically born with a covering known as the hymen. Folks that have visible tissue may stretch it and bleed as a result. Others are born with little to no tissue at all. Because we live in a patriarchal society, people place a lot of weight on the presence of a hymen as a sign of “virginity,” and when “taken,” it results in what is commonly referred to as “popping the cherry.” However, there is no way of determining whether someone has initiated their sex life by simply looking at their hymen. The stretching of a hymen happens under many circumstances, like exercising or masturbating.
Myth: Someone’s Gender Expressions Dictate What They Enjoy
Gender and gender expression do not translate into someone’s role in the bedroom. Additionally, labels are not boxes. Interests may change throughout someone’s sex life, and that is okay.
Myth: People Living With HIV Should Not Have Sex
Folks living with HIV can still have sex. What is vital is to achieve viral suppression, so folks living with HIV reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. Additionally, those at an increased risk of contracting HIV should consider taking PrEP.
Myth: Sex Ends in Orgasm
The truth is that sex ends whenever the involved parties decide it ends. In fact, good sex does not need to end in an orgasm. Communicate with your partners to determine when to stop, take breaks, and proceed with sexual activity.
About StopHIVATL: StopHIVATL is an organization based on harm reduction and sex positivity, focusing on a range of topics promoting health engagement. They provide inclusive, zero-judgment information and resources on sexual health, drug user health, Mpox, community events, and more. The testing, prevention (PrEP), and treatment resources StopHIVATL refer to interested parties are always confidential, secure and accessible to those living in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Cobb Counties.
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