Tweeted 31 Mar Well, we can put our rolls of Saran wrap back in the kitchen drawer. It appears that the CDC is shrinking from even that heavily qualified recommendation. In a fact sheet released last June, Oral Sex and HIV Risk , the CDC emphasizes the risk of oral transmission of a number of diseases and continues to advocate the use of physical barriers such as condoms and dental dams. However, on the issue of plastic wrap the CDC has changed its tune: At least one scientific article has suggested that plastic food wrap may be used as a barrier to protect against herpes simplex virus during oral-vaginal or oral-anal sex.
However, there are no data regarding the effectiveness of plastic food wrap in decreasing transmission of HIV and other STDs in this manner and it is not manufactured or approved by the FDA for this purpose . As I found in doing the research for my previous post, the CDC is right to be cautious about plastic wrap. Simply put, there is no research that tests the effectiveness of ordinary sandwich wrap as a barrier between lips and tongue and what they seek to titillate sexually.
Whether it is sheer squeamishness on the part of the scientific community, or sex-phobic avoidance, or merely benign neglect, the fact remains that after many years of shilly-shallying about oral sex barriers, a major U.
Characteristically, Canadian public health officials cling to their formulas and soft-pedal the issue. The Canadian Public Health Association mentions only dental dams or condoms cut lengthwise as appropriate barriers for cunnilingus, ignoring altogether what to use for anilingus, or rimming.
Not in Canada, eh? Plastic wrap has also been advocated by some AIDS educators as a risk-reduction tool for cunnilingus and anilingus. It was found to be effective for preventing transmission of the herpes simplex virus. It has not been tested as a barrier for HIV. It is not as elastic as latex, but it is cheap, accessible and easy to use.
Who is listening to the CDC? Despite the considerable uncertainty concerning the use of plastic wrap barriers of any kind in oral sex, many organizations continue to support their use. Without citing scientific evidence, AFAC launches into an odd discussion about microwaveable versus non-microwaveable wrap: The peculiar debate about the effectiveness of microwaveable as compared to non-microwaveable cling wrap is difficult to evaluate.
Many commentators have suggested that microwaveable wrap should not be used. The concerns about microwaveable wrap are understood to relate to the presence of pores in the wrap, which are designed to open at high temperatures, thereby releasing trapped steam.
While the concerns sound reasonable, it seems unlikely that even the most passionate of sexual individuals will reach the temperatures of a microwave oven. This lame attempt at humour does not disguise the fact that on this matter the Australians are talking out of their assertive derrieres. One dash-challenged example will suffice.
Using plastic wrap will protect you against HIV when engaging in anal sex — and it should be used during oral sex as well. Although vaginal and anal sex can pass HIV more easily — engaging in oral sex is not a safe practice. Use a barrier like shrink wrap whenever you have anal or oral sex. Have fun with plastic — wrap it up! Less chirrupy, but no less odd in its own way, is a peer-reviewed continuing education document for dentists, which offers a recommendation on preventing disease transmission from operatory surfaces.
The need for more research When it comes to plastic wrap not enough attention is being paid to the evidence — or the lack thereof. But, as I mentioned in my previous post, the paucity of sufficient research on the quality of plastic wrap as a barrier to infectious agents is no laughing matter. For some groups, there is no other choice. The difficulty of obtaining condoms and the virtual impossibility of finding something like a dental dam in many prisons for men, means that a possibly reused sheet of Saran wrap is often all that comes between those engaged in oral or even penetrative sex.
That consensual sex between men is not unusual in prisons is common knowledge. A study published this year shows that in the U. Many men seroconvert while incarcerated, some from injection drug use or tattooing, but the majority from unprotected sex . The HIV infection rate is increasing among women in general and among female prison inmates specifically. Incarcerated women report participation in unprotected consensual sex .
In a study of safer sex methods among women not in prison who have sex with women, 36 out of 92 respondents had used dental dams or plastic wrap as a barrier during oral sex . Latex dental dams, of course, provide the same protection as a condom. However, although occasionally available for free from public health agencies, dams are not as easy to find as condoms and cost considerably more per square inch of latex. They can be purchased from commercial websites such as Safe Sex Canada , but it is not clear that many are doing so, especially teenagers or people on low incomes.
Cut-open condoms will do the same job, but the resulting surface area is not as large as that provided by a dam. Although the CDC is declaring that there is insufficient evidence that plastic wrap is suitable for safer sex, a number of studies done in the past six years indicate that plastic wrap does afford protection from a number of infectious agents, even prions [9,10,11]. But there is no research that analyzes the safety of plastic wrap for sexual purposes, and not a word about its effectiveness as a barrier to HIV infection.
Facts about oral sex Fact number one. There is lots of it going on — in most age groups, and in growing numbers among the young. There is no question of the increase in popularity of oral and anal sex among the heterosexual population. It is estimated that one-third of American men and women have experienced anal sex, and three-quarters have had oral sex.
Annoyingly, it is not always clear in a research study how these types of sexual activity are experienced. For example, the common assumption appears to be that heterosexual men are only giving, not getting anal sex. Condom use during oral or anal sex is still relatively uncommon . Oral sex among the young There are no large-scale published studies assessing the prevalence of oral sex among younger Canadian teens.
One in four Canadian teenagers are sexually active at a mean age of 15 years. The mean age at first oral sex was also 15 years. Many teens are engaging in sexual behaviours that may threaten their health.
However, when questioned adolescents identify much less common infections as the most frequent e. The gaps in STI knowledge and some of the sexual behaviours of teens may explain, in part, the increasing prevalence of STIs in Canada . With respect to oral sex, it is important to remember that over the last 30 to 40 years fellatio and cunnilingus have become a normative aspect of the adult sexual script and this trend has been followed by youth.
A study of more than 11, youth aged years old attending a Baltimore clinic over a year period concluded that oral sex and, to a lesser degree, anal sex, appear to be increasing among teenagers and young adults. The odds of reporting oral sex were approximately three times higher in than in ; odds of anal sex were twice as high .
In a recent study of California ninth graders more participants reported having had oral sex Adolescents evaluated oral sex as significantly less risky than vaginal sex on health, social, and emotional consequences.
Adolescents also believed that oral sex is more acceptable than vaginal sex for adolescents their own age in both dating and nondating situations, oral sex is less of a threat to their values and beliefs, and more of their peers will have oral sex than vaginal sex in the near future . The CDC fact sheet on the risk of oral sex states: Even kissing is implicated in the transmission of oral HPV.
While the evidence for oral HIV infection is still debated, organizations such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, strongly maintain that people engaging in oral sex should use a barrier.
The Canadian AIDS Society emphasizes that the risk of transmission of HIV or other STIs from any kinds of oral intercourse can be effectively reduced by the proper use of a latex barrier condom or dental dam , and thus advocates the avoidance of unprotected orogenital or oro-anal contact.
Neither organization advocates the use of plastic wrap in any public statement on oral sex. This begs the question: I concluded my previous review with my take on why I thought researchers have failed to confront this important issue. It is still disturbing that, given the near universal recommendation by community organizations of this alternative barrier, that the large dose of cold water thrown by the CDC on their assertions has not flushed away the erroneous information they produce for public consumption.
What is being advocated about the virtues of stretch-and-seal wrap as a barrier for oral sex is not supported by any credible evidence. These assertions are full of holes. At a time when enough polyethylene is being produced to shrink-wrap Texas or Turkmenistan, surely someone must be out there who can do the necessary science on density, porosity, permeability, and microwaveability to make the next update I do on this topic a little less onerous.
But all the potential funders, even Bill and Melinda Gates, are clinging to their wallets and keeping their intentions under wraps. Finally, what are the Centers for Disease Control going to do about this? They waited three years for research to appear to back their cautious recommendation of plastic wrap, only to admit in the end that nothing had resulted from their doing nothing.
Would the cost be that prohibitive? When you see the absurd things that do get published have a look at the wildly funny blog NCBI ROFL for ample evidence of this , surely a decent study on the effectiveness or otherwise of plastic wrap as an oral sex barrier is in order. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article referred to in this quote is probably: Plastic wrap for ultrasound transducers.
Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine. The unreferenced article mentioned here is likely Garland, et al. Preventing disease transmission from operatory surfaces. Academy of Dental Therapeutics and Stomatology; HIV transmission in a state prison system, Epub May 1.
HIV transmission among male inmates in a state prison system—Georgia, Partner relationships and HIV risk behaviors among women offenders. Re-usable low density polyethylene arm glove for puerperal intrauterine exploration. East Afr Med J. Cling film as a barrier against CJD in Goldmann-type applanation tonometry.
Cling film as a barrier against CJD in corneal contact A-scan ultrasonography. Prevalence and correlates of heterosexual anal and oral sex in adolescents and adults in the United States. Sex and sexual health: