Zack Rosen over at The New Gay wrote an excellent column the other day about the importance of condom use within the gay community. The post covers a lot of ground—-personal responsibility, modes of transmission, casual anal bleeding:

A couple years ago when one of the cutest boys I’d ever seen begged me to fuck him without a condom. Actually, beg is the wrong word. He pleaded. He whined. He implored me not to use one as if it was simply some seasoning our our sexual entree that he found disagreeable.

Condoms, however, are not cilantro and I refused to eat without one. And the next morning I found his blood on my sheets, meaning that if he had listened to me, and I was HIV+, he would’ve been too. What a dumbass.

Zack answers a lot of questions about cultural attitudes toward condoms in same-sex relationships, but he also posed a question for me: Do straight people feel the same urgency to use protection?

I am but one woman, and I do not speak for The Straights. But D.C.’s newest AIDS numbers included two statistics that may have something do do with each other: The leading mode of transmission for new HIV cases is heterosexual sex, and 7 out of 10 D.C. citizens reported to not use condoms.

One reason I think condom concern may be lower among heterosexuals is that the HIV threat hasn’t been pounded into our brains for decades, like it has in the gay community. Also, “protection” means something different than STD prevention for us—-it also means preventing babies. In a lot of heterosexual relationships, sex partners are often so worried about pregnancy that the fear of conception overshadows concern over STDs.

I have to think that the real question, in the straight world, must be this: Are condoms as important to men as they are to women? In both cases—-pregnancy and STD prevention—-the responsibility to use protection often falls on her. She has to go to the doctor regularly and get her birth control prescription and make sure she takes it correctly every day. Often, she also has to make sure the man is wearing a condom. If she doesn’t, she’s more at risk than he is: In a female-to-male HIV contact scenario, women are more likely to contract the virus than men are, because of the way our bodies are made. This is true all the time—-it doesn’t depend on whether or not anybody is bleeding or whether the sex is anal.

So, that leads me to my question for Zack: Are condoms as important to guys on top as they are to guys on bottom?

Photo by victoriapeckham.