The secret is out. Dr. Rachael Ross, author, sexologist and family medicine physician, is passionate about HIV education and prevention. A recurring co-host on “The Doctors,” Dr. Rachael shares the growing number of HIV cases in our community is one of the main reasons she got into media.
She’s pointed out during an exclusive interview with rolling out the riskiest ways to contract HIV through sexual contact and who’s most affected.
Here, she shares how the white gay male community took control of the HIV epidemic and the benefit of “wetter sex.”
We hear so much about the fact incidences of HIV are growing in the black community. Is there a community where the numbers are actually decreasing?
It depends on what other communities we are talking about [but] if you’re talking about the white gay male community, absolutely. The numbers — in terms of how they did prevention outreach, how they sat in groups and really got out on the streets and talked to each other about the best way to prevent this illness from basically wiping out droves of their friends and family members — is no longer an issue.
How are the Latino and African American communities faring?
In our impoverished Latino and African American communities, and not only the impoverished in our community, [those] ages 25 to 45, the number one way I myself or you would die is right now an HIV-related issue. It’s not a car crash. It’s not a gunshot. When you really start to frame it and when you look at over 60 percent of new cases last year, and year before that, and year before that, were in African American women, it stops you in your tracks to [ask] “What can we do differently?” “What are we doing wrong?” When I look at my own practice and the people I know, it’s not the prostitute. It’s not the women at strip clubs. In my practice, it’s the women who are in committed relationships. It’s the ones who have been married for a while. It’s the ones who are engaged. It’s the ones who just got married. We have to take these practices in terms of prevention and communicating, getting your partner tested, and knowing where they stand in terms of their HIV status, knowing where you stand. Is this really mutual monogamy? Or is it something else. This is a life and death issue.
What are safer forms of sexual activity?
Manual manipulation, a hand job or fingering, as long as there are no cuts or tears. There’s a spectrum of sexual activity that people can use when you’re in situations where you’re unsure of your partner’s status and it’s a quick moment, you’re best to opt to engage in less risky sexual behaviors, than going straight for the gusto.
What are the benefits of lubricants?
When you understand how HIV is transmitted, you can understand HIV prevention better. You can understand that if you have dry [and/or vigorous] sex with someone for a period of time, two hours, you can understand the feeling you have the next day is rawness, which basically are micro-cuts, -tears or -abrasions. It’s things like that which increase your risk of contracting the virus. Wetter sex is better sex. And, wetter sex is safer sex because things are sliding and gliding, instead of tearing and pulling. Once you understand how the virus gets into your system, it’s much easier for you to construct your own sexual experience around prevention and decreasing your risk.