A Question of Health
We have often been asked by couples that
have written us about the health considerations of swinging. Since
this is a concern for everyone we have gathered a few pieces of
information for couples interested in the topic. This is just the
begining of this section so bare with us. We hope to provide links to
other sites for the more detailed deep medical text of the
conclusions of the discussion presented here but untill then you're
invited to help us out and send the info you have found healpfull in
making your decisions. Really that is what it comes down to, a
personal decision as what is right for you in the situation you find
your self in. First a few brief comments as to how we aporach things
and then an article from LAM ( Loving Alternative Magazine ) who were
kind enough to provide us with a number of their articles and much
help with this site. Please visit their site at:
I can't make this clear enough, this is
how we aporach things, it's not the answer for you and your spouse,
the two of you need to read all of the information you can find and
hopefully send us all the interesting articles you find and make your
own choices. We have read that the incidence of desease in the
community of swingers that there is little problem with health. Part
of that has to do with the careing nature of the people involved,
partly with the closed nature of the groups. A large part to do with
the use of condoms. With all of that said, and some of this may get a
little repetave for those of you have read our view on
We only swing with couples we have gotten
to know for a time. This may be as short as a single social, durring
the dance part, or as long as being with a couple we have gotten to
know over a number of socials. We're just not "lets fuck" kind of
people, we don't shun those of you who feel that way, it's just not
our way. For us if you don't feel like making friends with a person
why in the hell would you have sex with them. Yes we are fairly new
to the lifestyle and as perverted as the next person and this may
chance as this lifestyle has really helped us evolve as people but
doubt this aspect will change. Enough rant, we feel you should talk
to the other couple about your feelings and their experiences
swinging and otherwise, get to know them!
We feel we are pretty good jugdes of
character but we really don't want to die for our desire to enjoy our
sexuality to it's fullest. From what we've read, and it is
considerable, we've come to the following conclusions, but when in
doubt we go safe. Oral sex either way ( penis in mouth, or mouth on
pussy ), is very hard to catch deadly dease, others not so hard but
good lighting and knowing you partners should eliminate most of the
risks. Straight sex, know your partner! When in doubt use a condom,
and for men cum outside her if not using a condom. This way you won't
be in question. Anal sex ALWAYS a condom and only with a person you
really trust and know very well. This situation has never come up but
is something we have talked about extensively. We' like to hear your
feelings on the subject of health. Write
to us, click here
Our own operating principals.
AIDS and the Healthy Heterosexual
Peter W. Plumley, F.S.A.
Webpage Owner's Note: When this article
was first published in Usenet earlier this year it created quite a
stir. Many hailed it, many condemned it. We believe that some truths
or at least, thought provoking questions may lie within, so have
brought it to you. Ultimately it is up to you to make decisions for
yourself. All we can do is help provide information.
"AIDS" - its mere mention strikes fear
into the hearts of millions. We hear that, while here in the United
States it is primarily confined to homosexual men and IV drug users,
it is increasing among heterosexuals. We are told that we should
always pract ice "safe sex", in order to avoid HIV infection and the
supposed inevitable resulting death from AIDS.
AIDS has been a serious problem for
homosexual men who engage in high risk anal sex, and for intravenous
("IV") drug users. But what about the "healthy heterosexual" - that
is, the heterosexual who is in good health, does not have any
sexually transmitted diseases ("STDs") which might leave sores or
lesions in the genital area, who does not generally engage in anal
sex, and who is not sexually involved with the drug community or
others at increased risk of HIV infection? Should the "healthy
heterosexual" be concerned about the risk of contracting HIV from
sexual activity, or is the risk too remote to worry about?
If you believe that, for the 85% to 90% of
the population that are "healthy heterosexuals", the risk of AIDS is
too remote to worry about, you're right. However, if you qualify as a
"healthy heterosexual" but still are concerned about the risk of
AIDS, read on. You'll learn about the present state of the AIDS
epidemic (it's leveled off and appears to have begun to decline),
whether having multiple sexual partners significantly increases your
risk of HIV infection (it does not), whether condoms are really
necessary for prevention of HIV infection (usually they are not),
whether AIDS education for heterosexuals is doing more h arm than
good (it probably is), and whether HIV really does cause AIDS (many
think it does not, at least not by itself).
The present state of the AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, known
as "AIDS", was first diagnosed in the early 1980s. A couple of years
later, it was announced that AIDS was caused by a virus. This virus
was called the human immunodeficiency virus, or "HIV".
It is important to note that AIDS is not a
disease, but rather a collection of previously known diseases which
have in common the syndrome of a deficiency of the immune system. The
definition of AIDS has been expanded three times - in 1985, 1987, and
1993 - as it was determined that additional diseases supposedly were
caused by HIV.
As of December 1994, a total of 441,528
AIDS cases had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control
("CDC") since the epidemic began. 84% of the adult/adolescent cases
were attributed to either male homosexual contact or IV drug use. 7%
were from heterosexual contact, with the majority of these being from
contact with IV drug users. The remaining 9% were from hemophilia
(1%), blood transfusions (2%) or unknown risks (6%).
AIDS is almost 100% fatal, with 270,870
deaths from AIDS having been reported since 1981. Many of those still
alive were diagnosed with AIDS during the most recent few years.
(While the number of AIDS deaths may seem large, during the same time
period there were more than 25 million deaths in the United States
from all causes. Thus AIDS accounted for about 1% of all deaths
during that period.)
Is the AIDS epidemic continuing to
We see newspaper articles which suggest
that the AIDS epidemic is continuing to grow, particularly among
young people. Actually, however, if one allows for the changing
definitions of "AIDS" mentioned earlier, the number of new AIDS cases
being reported appears to have leveled off a couple of years ago.
Young people are no exception. In fact,
from 1990 to 1992, when the overall number of AIDS cases was still
increasing, the total number of new AIDS cases at ages 13- 24
declined from 1796 cases in 1990 to 1605 cases in 1992. (It isn't
possible to make year-to-year numerical comparisons after 1992
because the definition of AIDS was signifi cantly broadened in 1993.)
Even so, shouldn't young people be more
concerned about AIDS?
Perhaps some should be; however, you
really can't blame them for not worrying about AIDS. Only about 2% of
deaths occurring at ages 15-24 are from AIDS, and less than half of
these are attributed to heterosexual contact. Young people are far
more likely to die from accidents, homicide or suicide - or even from
cancer - than from AIDS. For them, the principal danger of
unprotected sex is that it may create a life, not that it may cost
How likely is the healthy heterosexual to
encounter an HIV-positive sexual partner?
Highly unlikely, assuming some reasonable
discretion is used in choosing sexual partners. If you avoid those
who seem likely to be at a higher risk for HIV (street prostitutes,
obvious drug users, etc.), there are relatively few HIV-positive
people out there. Depending on where you live, the probability of
such an encounter might vary from one i n 1000 to one in 5000 or
If by some unfortunate chance my sexual
partner is HIV-positive, how likely is it that I will become infected
from a "one night stand"?
Again, highly unlikely. Statistical
studies show that HIV is extremely difficult to transmit by
penile-vaginal sex, particularly from a woman to a man. A
heterosexual woman probably has an average risk of between one in 500
and one in 1000 of becoming i nfected from a sexual encounter with an
HIV-positive man. A heterosexual man has even less of a risk if his
female partner is infected. More- over, these figures include both
healthy and not-so-healthy people (i.e., those with other STDs,
etc.). So if you are a "healthy heterosexual", your risk is extremely
remote indeed. According to the experts, unless you have some special
problem such as genital sores or lesions which might make you
unusually susceptible to infection, HIV transmission from hetero
sexual contact generally requires repeated exposure to HIV, and
therefore usually occurs between regular sexual partners, one of whom
is HIV-positive, rather than from one night stands.
So what is the risk to the healthy
heterosexual of HIV-infection from the "one night stand" with a
seemingly healthy partner?
Virtually zero - usually less than
one-in-a-million. In fact, you're probably more at risk of being
killed in a car accident on the way to the "no-tell motel" than you
are of getting HIV infection once you arrive there.
Does having multiple sexual partners
significantly increase the risk of HIV transmission?
Contrary to popular belief, it does not.
It can be proven mathematically that the lower the efficiency of
transmission, the less important the number of partners becomes. For
the more easily transmitted STDs, the number of sexual partners makes
a big difference. However, for HIV, if you are a healthy heterosexual
the transmission efficiency is so low that the number of partners
makes virtually no difference.
Should I worry about whom my sexual
partner has been with previously?
Not really, unless you have some reason to
believe that he or she has had a regular sexual relationship with
someone, such as a drug user, who was at increased risk of HIV
infection. The more easily transmitted STDs travel from
man-to-woman-to-man-to-woman, etc., and so one's prior sexual
partners are important. However, because HIV is so difficult to
transmit heterosexually, "tertiary" transmissions among healthy
heterosexuals (where someone gets infected heterosexually from
someone else who also became infected in the same manner) are
Can I get HIV infection from oral sex or
shaking hands, kissing, etc.
There are no proven instances of HIV
transmission from oral sex or "casual contact". There have been some
alleged instances, and there are those who warn about the theoretical
possibility of it happening if someone engages in oral sex with an
open cut or sore in his or her mouth. Even so, the risk is so remote
that it probably isn't worth thinking about (unless your partner is
believed to be HIV- positive, in which case some caution might be a
Condoms and hard hats - or, how important
is "safe sex"?
We hear a lot of talk about the need for
condoms. However, they are intrusive in the love making process, and
so most people don't like them. But are they really necessary for the
Do you wear a hard hat all the time? No,
of course not. They are worn only by such people as construction
workers, those engaging in sports such as football and hockey, and
some motorcyclists and bicyclists - in other words, people who are
engaged in work or play involving a significantly increased risk of
injury to the head.
Is this because for others there is no
risk at all of getting hit on the head? Not at all. Many people have
been hurt or killed from head injuries that might have been prevented
if they had worn a hard hat while going about their daily lives. Then
why doesn't everyone wear a hard hat all day long? The answer is
simple. It's because (1) for most people the risk of a head injury is
very small ("one in a million", or less), and (2) a hard hat is
inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear.
So unless you are a construction worker or
an athlete, you are willing to take this small risk in order to avoid
the inconvenience and discomfort of a hard hat, even at a very small
risk to your life. The same can be said about condoms. Yes, it's
theoretically possible that the failure to use a condom could cause
you to become infected with HIV, just as it's possible that failure
to wear a hard hat could turn out to be fatal. But do you really want
to spend your life worrying about "one-in-a-million" risks that will
almost surely never happen to you?
Should anyone bother with condoms?
Not everyone needs to use a condom, any
more than we all need to wear hard hats. But should anyone use a
condom? Certainly, just as some people should use hard hats. Condoms
should be used to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy - a serious
problem for some segments of the population - if no other method of
birth control is being used. Condoms should be used by homosexual men
when engaging in anal sex, particularly if many partners are
involved, to prevent the transmission of all STDs.
Condoms should be used by heterosexuals
for the prevention of other STDs when either partner is at increased
risk for such diseases. For example, they should be used when one's
partner has a history of STDs, or has some current symptoms, such as
lesions, sores, or genital warts, or is particularly susceptible to
exposure to STDs (such as might be the case with a street
prostitute). And of course they should be used if one's partner is
known to be HIV-positive.
But usually if your concern about HIV and
other STDs is so great that you feel the need to use a condom, you
probably shouldn't be in the bedroom in the first place! (Would you
feel safe walking through a bad neighborhood, just because you were
wearing a hard hat to protect yourself from a rap on the head by a
mugger?) We Disagree with this as safe instead of sorry
shouldn't keep you out of the bedroom!
The dangers of "condomania"
Today we are in the midst of an epidemic
of "condomania" - i.e., emphasis on the need to use condoms to
prevent HIV transmission. While the AIDS epidemic is confined almost
entirely to homosexual men, IV drug users and their regular sexual
partners, "condomania" has permeated much of our society. It is a
part of the larger epidemic of "AIDS paranoia". Because of AIDS
paranoia, there have been tens of thousands of cases of
discrimination against those known or even suspected of being
HIV-positive. Dozens of laws have been passed to "protect" the public
against HIV infection and AIDS. Many of those laws have been
ill-advised and counterproductive.
"Condomania" has done little to prevent
the transmission of HIV except among homosexual men. But has it done
any harm? Unfortunately, it probably has. First of all, there is some
evidence that condoms can cause irritation, inflammation and other
medical problems, particularly when used with Nonoxynol 9 - the
procedure recommended to ensure prevention of the transmission of
But the psychological impact is even more
serious. Think of the harm we are doing. It is one thing to teach
young people about sexual responsibility, and to tell our daughters
not to get pregnant until they are married and ready for children.
But we are teaching children and adults alike that "intimacy means
death". In the process, we are interfering with one of the most basic
human desires - that of sexual intimacy - by telling millions of
people, most of whom have little or no risk of HIV infection, that
sex may kill them unless they "protect" themselves from their sexual
partner, who may be carrying a deadly, and sexually transmittable,
virus. We are telling them that they may die a horrible death unless
they intrude on the lovemaking process by using some artificial means
to prevent their body fluids from intermingling, even though for many
that intermingling is an important part of the sexual experience.
Surely for the healthy heterosexual the stress we are creating is
doing more harm than the warnings are doing good.
Does HIV really cause AIDS?
Up to this point, we've been assuming that
HIV is the cause of AIDS. However, in the last few years, an
increasing number of respected scientists have come to the conclusion
that the relationship of HIV to AIDS is far more complicated than
simply "HIV causes AIDS". Some of these scientists believe that HIV
is a harmless virus that has nothing to do with AIDS. Others believe
that HIV is related to AIDS in some way, but that it requires some
immune system damaging "co-factor" to be harmful. Still others
believe that HIV is only one of a number of immune suppressing
factors which, when taken in combination with other such factors,
ultimately destroys the immune system and creates the medical illness
we call "AIDS".
While we don't know all the answers, we do
know that in virtually every case in which "AIDS" has been diagnosed,
there is some provable and identifiablerisk factor present (besides
HIV) which would tend to damage the immune system. In his book
Rethinking AIDS, Dr. Robert Root-Bernstein gives a lengthy list of
drugs and other conditions which are known to damage the immune
system. These include not only IV drugs, but also non-IV
"recreational" drugs, as well as certain prescription drugs such as
AZT, and some of the stronger drugs prescribed for the treatment and
prophylaxis of some sexually transmitted diseases (drugs which are
frequently taken in large quantities). It also includes immune system
abnormalities such as hemophilia.
It is very unusual to find someone with
AIDS who doesn't have one or more of these risk factors.
The risks and rewards of life
Do "healthy heterosexuals" get AIDS? There
are a few heterosexuals without known risk factors who have been
diagnosed with AIDS. But these are rare cases. Many more healthy
heterosexuals have died because they weren't wearing a hard hat.
But healthy heterosexuals are not going to
start wearing hard hats - nor should they lie awake worrying about
AIDS. No matter how hard we try, we cannot avoid all risks in life -
only some of the bigger ones. Even a life of celibacy doesn't totally
protect against HIV infection - neither a hard hat or a condom would
protect you against someone stabbing you with an HIV-infected needle
while you were walking down the street.
This is not to suggest that we should not
be sexually responsible. Both men and women have a responsibility to
avoid unwanted pregnancies. We should be aware of the symptoms of
STDs, and get prompt treatment when such symptoms appear.
(Fortunately, except for HIV, all STDs except herpes, which is not
life threatening, are curable with proper treatment.) We should
always tell our prospective sexual partners of any transmittable
diseases we have - even a common cold. And we should keep our own
bodies healthy and drug-free, and avoid sexual contact with those
whose bodies are not equallyhealthy and drug-free.
But at the same time, we should not permit
ourselves to become victims of AIDS paranoia. AIDS may be only one of
a number of legitimate health concerns for the "not-so-healthy
heterosexual". However, for the healthy heterosexual, AIDS is truly a
"one-in-a-million" risk - the kind we take several times every day
just going about our daily lives. For example, consider a skiing
trip. Just getting to the ski resort probably involves a risk of
death from a car accident of several times "one-in-a-million". Then
there is the accident risk on the slopes, to say nothing of the
dangers of overeating and drinking. And finally, there is the
accident risk once more when making the trip back home. Yet those who
are skiers don't worry about these risks, because the rewards make
the risks worth taking. Nor do we condemn the ski resort operators
for encouraging people to take such risks.
Even if we avoid such "extra" risks as a
ski trip, just living a day in our lives involves a risk of death
from natural causes of more than one-in-a-million when we are young,
and then gets gradually larger - much larger - as we age.
We will never get out of life alive, so we
might as well enjoy it while we are around to do so. There's little
point in reaching a ripe old age thinking about how much of life's
pleasures we missed in order to avoid a few of those