David Stuart

david.stuart@me.com

Doing our best to reduce the transmission of coronavirus when hooking up with others during urgent lockdown periods.

There is almost no harm reduction in regard to coronavirus & actual sex.
Coronavirus infection is not about sex practices, it’s about proximity to others.
Firstly; remember that the majority of people with coronavirus do not have symptoms, yet are infectious (for a period).
They’ll never know they have it.
So that’s where we start with our COVID harm reduction; acknowledging that.

So when people in a city leave their homes, virus in the communities rises; people do die because we leave our houses.
Harm reduction messages are difficult for organisations to deliver, when the harm done is more to others than to ourselves, and when the death rate of these 'others’ is SO high. People are frightened and emotional about such huge death rates, so harm reduction messages are always harder when the stakes are so high, and heightened emotions are involved.

But we must try.

Despite the risk to our communities, some people do leave their houses, some people do hook up, even though it means, people in our communities will die. Thinking “I’m the exception” doesn’t work here. It won’t be me that dies; more likely it’ll be the mum of the uber driver, maybe it’ll be the staff member at the pharmacy. Maybe it’s the person who touches the lift button after me. Or the dad of the Amazon delivery person who delivered to my lovers house after we had sex. But some people will go out of their houses despite this, we know this. (Some struggle with mental health, some struggle with addiction... and some people just don’t care. That’s a sad reality; and there are reasons why people just don’t care. Whether we understand them or not… And that’s why we deliver harm reduction information.

Harm reduction guidance for people sharing a house (regardless of sex happening) acknowledges that it’s virtually impossible to avoid coronavirus transmission - when you’re sharing a house.
Harm reduction for flatmates would include isolating in rooms, vigilantly disinfecting shared surfaces, door handles, light switches, remote controls, keyboards, toilet flushes, eating utensils, fridge doors oven doors etc. Virtually impossible. So actual sex and covid harm reduction - is almost non-existent for people sharing such close proximity.
Remembering again, that the majority of people with coronavirus do not have symptoms, yet are infectious (for a period).
They’ll never know they have it.
So the most practical harm reduction advice is don’t go to other people’s houses; and by doing this we save lives.

THE best harm reduction advice, is to only have actual sex with someone you share a house with. Because the transmission is practically inevitable anyway.

Following that; it’s about conducting a risk assessment.

Risk assessment.

Firstly, me; am I infectious or not? I just don’t know? As we await more robust COVID testing and immunity testing, there are no guarantees.
If;
- I haven’t been in close proximity to another human in 5 days
AND
- if I haven’t touched any COVID contaminated surfaces in the last 5 days...

...then I can be pretty sure that I’m not infectious.

If I’m hooking up with another person who;
- hasn’t been in close proximity to another human in 5 days
AND;
- who hasn’t touched any COVID contaminated surfaces in the last 5 days….

then that might be safe - IF
- we can journey to each other, without any close contact to other people; (I’m talking Uber drivers, people on public transport, people who share our/their building, their building, etc)…
AND IF
- we can get to the other person’s house (or vice versa) without touching any COVID-contaminated surfaces along the way (that means, car door handles,handle-bars on shared bikes, buttons on credit card machines, supermarket touch-screens, the insides of taxis, stuff on shop shelves, lift buttons, door handles..)

And
- IF our potential sex partner could commit to being vigilant about all those same things…

Excellent.
That'd be the best COVID harm reduction advice for hooking up.

I think we’d have to agree that’s pretty hard work, and pretty impossible.
Hence the instructions we all have to stay indoors unless it’s essential not to.

Further to that; COVID harm reduction advice if we are hooking up, is exactly the same as COVID harm reduction for the general community.
1. Check that both you and your potential sex partner have no current symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath)

2. Check that both you and your potential sex partner have had no close proximity to others in 5 days - and especially that both you and your partner have had no close proximity to people with symptoms of a cough, fever or shortness of breath.

3. Check that both you and your potential sex partner have no underlying health conditions that make either of you more susceptible to the more complicated (or fatal) symptoms of coronavirus. (Things like a heart condition, chronic respiratory problems, or being aged over 60 years old.

4. Reduce, as much as you possibly can, the surfaces you touch & people you see on the journey toward the others house. Take disinfectant wipes or gel, and use it every time you touch a surface during that journey. Be mindful of lift buttons, door handles, uber seats, handrails on public transport… everything.

5. Avoid choosing to have sex in public venues like public toilets or places that have hosted others who might have been infectious. Restricting it to people’s bedrooms is so much safer, you can control and disinfect that environment easier.

6. Choosing to hook up with a person who lives alone, is better than hooking up with a person who has a number of flatmates. No matter how vigilant we are about COVID harm reduction, there are no guarantees, so reducing the number of people who will possibly become infected because of our hook up, is better. At very least, make sure that no one in the house has symptoms, or is particularly vulnerable to dangerous COVID symptoms (like an older person, or someone with a heart condition or respiratory problems etc). If there is a choice as to whose house to meet at, choose the person who lives alone, or with as few flatmates as possible. Check too, that there are no essential workers/key workers in the household, who are continuing to work with vulnerable people & communities.

7. As the host, greet your partner at the door with hand gel if you have it; otherwise straight to the bathroom to wash hands or shower. Disinfect bathroom door handle, water tap handles etc. This would reduce the risk of any virus that might have  been brought into the house, from passing on.

8. Once you get to your lovers bed (or vice versa)… actually in the bed (or bedroom) …just get on with it :) There is nothing you can do, once you are in this close proximity to the person, to reduce the risk of transmission. Nothing. So just get on with it, and have a good time. Have a really really good time; because if it is really satisfying, perhaps the satisfaction can help you abstain from hooking up again for a while, which again… reduces the chance of the virus spreading in our communities, and actually does save lives.

9. If you do have to hook up again; hooking up with the same person who is respecting the harm reduction measures is much better. But having a small hub or network of chosen people or fuck buddies isn’t helpful in itself, because coronavirus transmission is not so much about the people, but about all the things we touch, all the people we see between each sexual encounter. But if you have a network of trusted fuck buddies who all agree to honour these harm reduction measures, and if you can trust them all to be vigilant and honest, that reduces the risk to a degree.

THIS ISN'T PERMISSION TO GO AHEAD.
It's a plea, to think twice.
When considering these harm reduction tips, please don’t misinterpret them to be a kind of “green light” or blessing to go ahead. It’s really bad public health to hook up in COVID lockdown times, it’s really unkind to people in our communities who are more vulnerable. And yeah, people do die every time another person leaves their house. Every time we leave the house. Fact. So take this harm reduction advice in the spirit that it’s meant; it isn’t permission, it’s a plea to help save lives and help our communities to get through this lockdown period with as few deaths on our hands as possible. By being brilliant and kind community members, who consider the consequences to all, of our choices and our actions.
Finally; to all the people who've reached out from all parts of the world; all of you I know (& those I don't); all of you who have been heroically  abstaining from hooking up during this peak lockdown period; thank you. Huge thank you. I know how hard it is, especially for those who have been managing powerful chems cravings, or those whose mental health flares up awfully when isolated from other humans. And all the others, whose lives and wellbeing are hugely improved by sex, closeness, intimacy, physical connectedness and hooking up; thank you thank you for honouring the physical distancing measures during this peak lockdown period. It really could have overwhelmed our health services, it really really has saved lives, so thank you for doing your bit, as hard as it has been.