Originally published by Achieving Together
“I have a confession: I’ve had sex since social distancing began. With someone I met on Tinder, someone I don’t live with. And I know friends doing the same.
With the pandemic still a major concern across the United States, people having sex or even just wanting to have sex may feel shame — even more shame than usual in this Puritanical wasteland. We’ve been told to abstain from pleasure and release at a time where we need it most.”
This is the opening to Anna Iovine’s article “The practical guide to mid-pandemic sex, because abstinence isn’t cutting it.” While the safest approach is to abstain from sex with partners outside of you household, this doesn’t work for many people. Like early messages about HIV prevention, abstinence may be the ideal but we’ve learned that for most people, negotiating safety when it comes to sex is the most practical strategy. Sexual harm reduction approaches have long been a staple in the HIV world, but now those approaches are expanding to help guide people during the COVID crisis.
Achieving Together is excited to partner with Kind Clinic to share their strategies and approaches to supporting communities during this time of uncertainty, particularly around sexual health and wellness. Kind Clinic’s approach to education is non-judgmental, sex positive, and playful in order to develop educational but relatable messaging. We’re excited to share their efforts to help inform and shape other work across the state in supporting communities.
From Kind Clinic:
“Safer sex practices have been and always will be vital to the community’s sexual health, but having responsible, safe sex is even more important now during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has introduced new challenges to sexual health education and outreach. At Texas Health Action’s Kind Clinic, we are educating the community on how to reduce the risk of contracting HIV, STIs and COVID-19, while STILL enjoying a healthy sex life. The most effective tools for us have been colorful, fun, and easy to read graphics. Our ‘Safer Sex During COVID-19’ infographic is a great example.”
Additionally, Kind Clinic has actively used traditional media such as the Austin Chronicle to highlight and share information on negotiating sexual health during the pandemic. Holly Bullion, a nurse practitioner and director of clinical quality at the clinic, has taken opportunities to share information when possible. In the Austin Chronicle article Kissing Is Out, Glory Holes Are In for Students During Pandemic, Bullion continues the practice of sharing critical information in a relatable and non-judgmental fashion as can be seen in the excerpt below.
Holly Bullion, nurse practitioner and director of clinical quality with Texas Health Action, the parent organization of Kind Clinic, says during the pandemic sexual “playtime” should be focused below the waist. COVID is transmitted through respiratory droplets, so kissing and sexual activities that involve the mouth come with increased risk of viral spread.
“It’s really best to keep your mouth out of any kind of in-person sex play,” explained Bullion. “Or really diligently use barrier methods like dental dams or external or internal condoms.”
She emphasized there are many places for people to get tested and treated for STIs without feeling stigmatized. People should not avoid getting tested for fear of judgment for having sex during the pandemic.
“For many of us, sex is a really important outlet,” said Bullion. “Being sex positive and empowering yourself and knowing what your resources are, I think is the most important thing.”
To complete their messaging, the clinic has created and shared numerous fun social media posts that reflect their emphasis on harm reduction and safety. We are sharing several to highlight the frank and honest approach.