The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Ask the Experts About

Safe Sex and HIV PreventionSafe Sex and HIV Prevention
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
Recent AnswersAsk a Question
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary


Mar 7, 2004

which risk is higher, having receptive anal sex with a gay man, or having insertive vaginal sex with a woman?

Response from Mr. Spinks

Hello reader,

I'm glad you asked that very important question. I hear it all the time. But it's not who you are, but what you DO that puts you at risk for HIV and STDs.

What you may not know is that there's a difference in risk depending upon if you are the RECEPTIVE or INSERTIVE partner. So in order to answer this question effectively, let’s look at RECEPTIVE vaginal sex (ie the female) and RECEPTIVE anal sex versus INSERTIVE vaginal and anal sex.

Research shows that the RECEPTIVE partner of anal sex is in the high-risk category for HIV infection. The potential transmission occurs when precum or cum stays inside the rectum (inside the ass), which, after intercourse, may have some torn or damaged tissue. So semen enters into the blood stream through these tiny tears in the tissue.

RECEPTIVE vaginal sex has similar risks...where tiny tears in the vagina allow infected semen to get into the bloodstream.

If you look at INSERTIVE vaginal or anal sex (this refers to the person who puts his penis into someone's ass or vagina), although categorized as high risk for HIV infection, it is not as risky as receptive sex (although it is still very risky). Research has shown that receptive anal sex is eight times more risky for HIV infection than insertive sexual contact. Both activities, of course, are equally as risky for other sexually transmitted diseases.

Nevertheless, if you were thinking about participating in either scenario, I'd encourage you to use a latex condom with water-based lubricant. Make sure the lubricant is without nonoxyonl-9, a spermicidal product that may cause irritation to mucous membranes and increase the risk of HIV transmission.

Take care and be safe!

what a joke
Oral sex unsafe?

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

 Get Email Notifications When This Forum Updates or Subscribe With RSS



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint