Safe sex

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Safe sex is defined as "Sexual activity engaged in by people who have taken precautions to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS." [1] It is also referred to as safer sex, or protected sex, while unsafe sex or unprotected sex is sexual activity engaged in without precautions to protect against sexually transmitted infections. Some sources prefer the term safer sex to more precisely reflect the fact that these practices reduce, but do not completely eliminate, the risk of disease transmission.[2]

Safe sex practices became more prominent in the late 1980s as a result of the AIDS epidemic. Promoting safe sex is now one of the aims of sex education. From the viewpoint of society, safe sex can be regarded as a harm reduction strategy aimed at reducing risks.[citation needed]

The risk reduction of safe sex is not absolute; for example the reduced risk to the receptive partner of acquiring HIV from HIV seropositive partners not wearing condoms to compared to when they wear them is estimated to be about a four- to fivefold.[3]

Although some safe sex practices can be used as contraception, most forms of contraception do not protect against all or any STIs; likewise, some safe sex practices, like partner selection and low risk sex behavior, are not effective forms of contraception.



Recently, and mainly within Canada and the United States, the term safer sex, rather than safe sex, has gained greater use by health workers, reflecting that risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections in various sexual activities is a continuum rather than a simple dichotomy between risky and safe. However, in most other countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, the term safe sex is still in common use.[citation needed]

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