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Free HPV Vaccines Are More Fun Than Blowjobs With Condoms


06.25.13 Marie Calloway

“Everyone from U.S. teens (70%) to adults (82%) to British teens (80%) forgoes condoms every time they have oral sex,” Jake Blumgart of the Pacific Standard via Salon reports. You’re thinking, “Really? I thought the numbers would be higher.”

Of course, the smart thing to do would be to use condoms or dental dams for every act of oral sex to avoid the oral transmission of HPV, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B, chlamydia and HIV. After citing these dismal safer oral sex statistic and frightening us with the idea that we’re all going to get HPV and die of cancer unless we start using condoms and dental dams immediately — Unless it’s already too late! — Blumgart ends his article on a semi-optimistic note: “Back in the ‘70s, people never thought men would be willing to wear condoms for penile-vaginal or oral intercourse,” but “due to the effective campaigning, especially around HIV… we’ve really seen condom use rise for those types of sex. If people were really educated about what they were risking by having unprotected oral sex, I have faith in the public that enough of us would find value in protecting ourselves.”

So, with greater education about the risks of unprotected oral sex and campaigns that emphasize how safe oral sex can be fun, we’ll all start protecting ourselves with latex barriers, just like we all surely do during PIV and anal sex. But wait.  This seems to contradict the statistics cited previously in the article about condom use during vaginal intercourse: “About one-fourth of single adults never use condoms during vaginal sex.” According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, only one-fourth of vaginal intercourse is protected, but according to the Centers for Disease Control condom use is on the rise, but 68.3% of unmarried men and 71.6% of unmarried women aged 15 to 44 who had sex in the last four weeks “never” use condoms.

So, the use of condoms for vaginal (and, presumably, anal) intercourse sex in the United States occurs at a dismally low rate, even with education campaigns focused on the risks of unprotected PIV and the commercial propagation of condom use as “fun.” It’s worth noting Blumgart’s only example of a group of people who use condoms consistently for oral sex is sex workers, who go through the effort of making the use of condoms for oral sex “fun” and “sexy,” but only so it doesn’t cut into their bottom line.

Let’s face it: Condoms and dental dams still taste unpleasant and dry, even with lube, not to mention the dulled sensation. We’re a long way from condoms and dental dams being considered standard for oral sex, despite efforts to mainstream their use, even in the adult film industry. A more currently practical approach would be one of reducing risk: No ejaculation in the mouth. Or, if it does occur, you can at least reduce the risk of HIV virus transmission by spitting or swallowing it immediately instead of letting it sit in your mouth, as stomach acid and enzymes in the esophagus kill the HIV virus.

Perhaps most practical solution of all would not to be to compartmentalize an individual public health issue like HPV but work to make education about and access to vaccines, cancer screenings, and testing readily available, to all economic levels.