Hooking up during Covid-19 – what you need to know

While EMH is a sex-positive organisation and we encourage men to enjoy their sex life, we currently recommend abstaining from hookups and casual sex to avoid getting and spreading coronavirus. 

As frustrating as it may be, we have to find other safer ways to achieve sexual pleasure and satisfaction to protect our lives and that of our loved ones. It’s time to stay at home, avoid close contact with people outside our household and to be creative about how we manage our sex lives.

Here are answers to a few questions you may have about sex and hooking-up during the time of coronavirus:

  • Can the coronavirus be passed on through sex?

Yes. The virus is spread through the saliva, mucus and breath of infected people, so kissing and close physical contact is very risky. There are concerns that the virus may be transmitted via faeces so anal play, such as rimming, is not suggested. Scientists have also found the coronavirus in the semen of some infected men, although it’s not clear how transmittable this is.

  • Who is it safe to have sex with?

Remember that people can be infected with the coronavirus and may not show any symptoms but can still pass it on.

Do not be tempted to include other individuals from outside of your home in your sex life during this crisis. It’s strongly recommended that you don’t hook up with strangers or multiple partners at all. At the very least, have as few partners as possible. 

Sex with someone with whom you are sharing a home and are self-isolating with is one of the less risky options. But if you or the other person do not feel well or have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19, definitely don’t take the risk and skip getting intimate.

  • What is the safest form of sex?

The safest kind of sex you can have – as always – is with yourself – i.e. good old masturbation! Take all the time you need to pleasure yourself to let off your sexual steam. This is where the amazing power of the internet comes into play. You can visit free adult sites to get an eyeful of sexual stimulation. You can also use hook-up apps, sites or video services like Zoom to chat with other people to get yourselves off – just not in the same room!

If you do hookup in person, both of you can use a mask to cover your nose and mouth during sex and avoid kissing or any close face to face contact. Perhaps masturbate together, keeping some distance between you while wearing masks. Yeah, it’s kinda kinky!

Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Washing up before and after sex is important and use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

NB: If you are using video calls or sharing pictures to have fun with someone online, take great care that the footage and photos don’t get misused to blackmail or embarrass you. The rule of thumb is to never include your face in any sexually explicit images or video that you appear in.

  • Should I still be taking PrEP?

If you are still hooking up or having casual sex (despite recommendations not to), then do continue to use (or get onto) PrEP to avoid HIV infection. However, if you are not having sex at all and are adhering to lockdown and social distancing rules, then you may choose to stop PrEP for now. It’s safe to stop PrEP as long as you keep taking it for two days after you last had sex.

If you are on PrEP for a very specific reason, such as living with an HIV positive sexual partner or are not sure if your partner is faithful, you may choose to keep taking PrEP.

Remember that once you’re ready to start using PrEP again, you must take the daily dose for seven consecutive days before it will protect you from HIV (ie. don’t have unprotected sex during those seven days).

  • HIV positive? Don’t stop taking your ARVs 

If you are HIV positive, do keep taking your ARVs (or get onto them if you are not currently on treatment). Being on ARVs will not only keep you healthy and reduce your risk of passing on HIV to others but will also help keep your immune system strong – very important during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • What if I need to get tested for HIV or an STI?

Our sexual health services are available as always but there are strict protocols at our facilities in place to protect you and our staff. We suggest that you make an appointment in advance. We have a “no mask, no service” policy, so don’t forget to wear it for your appointment.

To book at one of our facilities or for more information contact our national call centre number on 082 607 1686 to link you to a service in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Buffalo City or Nelson Mandela Bay.

If you are concerned that you have coronavirus and/or have any symptoms rather do not visit us and call the national coronavirus hotline for further advice and support: 0800 029 999.

To stay up to date on coronavirus news, developments and symptoms, save the official coronavirus WhatsApp service number on your phone: 060 012 3456. Send “hi” to the number and follow the prompts. You can also visit the SA government’s coronavirus website here.

Article sources: Terrence Higgins Trust / NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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