This Is How To Have Safe Sex In The Age Of COVID-19

Here are eight tips for how to safely get your groove on—during a pandemic.

Women's Health

Whew, y'all. 2020 has seemed like the longest, not year but decade ever, and we're only in the month of July. And definitely, if there's one thing that has made the mark of all marks on us, it's the coronavirus—a pandemic that has infected 11 million people worldwide and counting. When you really stop to think about it, COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, but if there's one area that I don't think is discussed enough, it's sex. When a virus is so powerful that you need to stay six feet away with a mask on in order to decrease your chances of contracting it, how do you get physically intimate with someone without upping the ante on putting your health in danger?

Discoveries about COVID-19 are happening on an almost daily basis. For now, as it specifically relates to it and your sex life, here are eight ways to make practicing safe sex, in the time of this pandemic, so much easier for you and yours to do.



Here's something that's pretty disturbing. While there are 20 million new cases of STI/STDs each year, approximately only 12 percent of Americans get tested for them (what in the world?!). That said, I'm hoping it's a given that, if you are sexually active, you get tested to make sure that you don't have a sexually transmitted infection or disease. But actually, what I'm speaking of here, is how important it is to make sure you don't have COVID-19 too. I live in Nashville. I promise you I don't get why the comedy club Zanies was open and hosting comedian DL Hughley here, when clubs and bars weren't set to until that following Monday. Anyway, when DL passed all the way out during his set, what stood out to me the most was, until he was officially diagnosed with the virus, he had been asymptomatic.

Between how much the virus is spreading, the fact that mutated strains of it are more contagious than the "original version", and more and more people are realizing that they are asymptomatic, just like DL was, yes, you and your partner need to get tested to see if you've got it. Currently, there are viral and antibody tests that are available. In order to figure out where you should go to get tested in your area, it's important to contact your physician first. Because different states have different regulations, click here to find where various local testing centers are.

2. Use Condoms


If you're not in an exclusive relationship, not on birth control and don't want to get an STD—you need to be using a condom. Full stop. But as it specifically relates to COVID-19, another reason to bring condoms into the mix (whether it's for oral sex or intercourse) is because they help to prevent the spread of saliva (oral) and fecal matter (anal; more in that in a bit).

While it is important to note that many health professionals have stated that they have yet to find evidence of the virus being in semen or vaginal fluids, again, the fact that we're supposed to stay six feet apart from others and wear a mask whenever we're out, is enough of a reason to get why using a rubber is a good idea. So, make sure that you do, OK? (Speaking of condoms, make sure that you check out "10 Things You Should DEFINITELY Know About Condoms" for more info on them.)

3. Rethink Doing It If Your Partner Hasn’t Worn a Mask


Unfortunately, there are some people in my world who are whilin'. They're out 'n about, not wearing masks, overdosing on YouTube conspiracy videos and all up on airplanes. So definitely, when it comes to interacting with them, we talk on the phone; who knows when I'll want to see them face to face again (not any time soon, that's for sure). Why? Because they aren't taking safety precautions to make sure that they don't become infected. And yes, that's a really big deal. Matter of fact, I recently read an article on NPR about how some states are requiring that if you travel there, you will need to stay put and quarantine for two weeks, so that you don't bring the possibility of the virus back to your hometown.

Anyway, because there is irrefutable evidence that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (because it keeps mucus and saliva droplets from "traveling" around), it's important that both you and your partner wear one, every time that you are out in public. If your city/state doesn't mandate that you do and one of you goes without one, you really should wait 14 days before gettin' it in again. Otherwise, you both could end up with the virus, whether you realize it or not (because symptoms can appear in as little as two days or as much as 14 in some instances).

4. Wash Hands and Sex Toys (Consistently)


Social distancing and wearing a mask aren't the only ways to decrease your risk of getting COVID-19. It's important that you also wash your hands. Regular soap is fine; just make sure that you wash, thoroughly, for no less than 30 seconds, every time that you do. By the way, you should wash your hands as soon as you come into your house. You should wash your hands after handling things that have been outside of your home (like groceries or take-out). And yes, you should wash your hands before and right after sex. While that might sound crazy (considering all of the bodily fluids that just got exchanged), you never know what you and your partner may have inadvertently touched before touching each other. So, it's an extra step that could possibly end up making a big difference.

Oh, and if you and yours like to use sex toys, make sure to wash those as well. Fecal matter is one way that COVID-19 gets transmitted and since it gets on sheets and into underwear, so you can best believe that it's on sex toys too. That's why you need to thoroughly clean your toys with soap and water, after every use.

5. Back Up Off of the Anal Sex


If anal sex is your thing, there are two things to remember. One is something that I've shared before—the FDA has yet to approve a condom for anal sex (definitely food for thought). Secondly, again, COVID-19 can definitely be transmitted through fecal matter. Whenever you engage in anal sex, some amount of it gets transmitted between partners. So yeah, if you want an even greater chance of lowering your risk of getting the virus, backing off of anal sex (no pun intended, of course), at least for the time being, is probably a wise thing to do.

6. Wait If One of You Isn’t Feeling Well


I'm hoping that this one is a given, but hey, Trump is our president and Kanye claims he's running to become it, so, anything crazy is possible.

Because some of the symptoms of COVID-19 mimic a cold or the flu, don't assume that a bout of coughing or a fever is nothing more than that. If you or your partner are under the weather, either get tested ASAP and/or wait 14 days before having sex again.

Hey, that might seem like a long time but since severe cases of the virus can take up to six weeks (sometimes longer) for symptoms to go away, it's best to be on the safe side. It's better to wait 14 days and be well than to ignore that and be sick for a month and a half or more. Wouldn't you agree?

7. Keep Your Immune System Up


At this point, a lot of us know, at least one person, who's been diagnosed with the virus. If you're blessed to not be one of them, please don't take that for granted. Chances are, eventually, you will. And that's a great reminder to do all that you can to keep your own immune system healthy and strong. Reading articles on our site like "10 All-Natural Ways To Avoid Catching A Cold" (because it can help to ward off viruses in general), getting plenty of rest, sleeping with a humidifier on (because it can make certain viruses and bacteria in the air weaker, making it harder for you to get them), drinking lots of water, walking outside in your neighborhood (in order to get some fresh air)—these are all things that can help to keep your immune system strong so that it's harder for you to get sick.

8. Stay Exclusive


If you're someone who struggles with exclusivity, allow the time of COVID-19 to be a motivating factor. That's because, if there's one thing that all healthcare providers can agree on, it's the fact that a pandemic is absolutely the wrong time to pick up a new sex partner. You know the saying, "Stick to the devil you know"? While hopefully, your partner is good people, remaining intimate with someone you're already quite familiar with is another way to lower your risk of getting the virus. So, make sure, for the sake of all parties involved, that you do. Y'all be safe out here.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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