The public health community has known for years that unprotected anal sex increases the risk of spreading HIV and other infections. This is primarily attributed to the damage done to anal membranes during unprotected sex. The anus, a major organ system has been classified
as the external opening of the rectum. Interestingly enough, The anus has a relatively high concentration of nerve endings and is an erogenous zone. Moreover, Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosocial development has often been referred to.
Historically, this practice has been more prevalent among homosexual men. However, this survey revealed some unique and alarming trends.
More than 100,000 New York City women engage in anal intercourse each year, according to a new report from the Health Department, and many are not taking the steps needed to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (NYC Dept of Health). According to Dr. Thomas Farley, NYC Health Commissioner; “Many people are aware of the risk of HIV when men have sex with other men, but this report shows that a large number of women also are putting themselves at high risk through unprotected anal sex. For both men and women, the overall message is clear: Never engage in unprotected anal sex. Use a condom every time.”
“Past studies suggest that anal exposure to HIV poses 30 times more risk than vaginal exposure. But the New York City findings suggest that women are less likely than men who have sex with men to use condoms during anal sex. The figure is just 23%, according to the new report, compared to 61% among men who have sex with other men (NYC Dept of Health).” The survey does not disclose why women are less likely to utilize a condom compared to men who have sex with men.
One the more alarming trends revealed in this survey, is that younger women are engaging this sexual practice. ‘Women 18 to 24 years old are nearly six times more likely than those aged 45 to 64 to report unprotected anal sex (11% versus 2%). And whereas 15% of women with three or more sex partners reported engaging in anal sex in the past year, the figure was just 4% among those with one partner. Reports of anal sex in the past year are similar across race and ethnicity, with Asian women reporting 8%, white women 7%, Hispanic women 6% and black women 4% (NYC Department of Health).”
As a result of these findings, NYC Department of Health has recommended the following:
Health care providers should offer STI and HIV testing to all patients, regardless of their stated sexual history.
People engaging in anal sex should always use condoms. Free NYC Condoms and other alternative male condoms, in addition to female condoms and lubricant, are available at locations throughout New York City.
Unless they’re in mutually monogamous relationships, people who have had unprotected sex should get tested for HIV and other STIs at least once a year. Free, confidential screening is available at Health Department clinics, no appointment required. Call 311 for clinic locations and hours of operation. Services are available to people 12 and older without parental notification and without regard to immigration or insurance.
If you have exposed any partners to a sexually transmitted infection (including HIV), it is important to tell them so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
New York City Department of Health and Hygiene. (2010). Health Department Highlights Health Risks of Unprotected Anal Sex among Heterosexual Women in New York City. Press Release by Celina De Leon/Zoe Tobin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2010/pr016-10.shtml on April 21, 2010.