Glove love: Take care to slide home safe

I'm not really that educated in sports such as baseball. At the gym I once saw a man wearing funky shoes that made him walk on his tiptoes. I asked him why he was wearing those shoes, and he said, "To strengthen my calves. I'm a professional ball player."

"What kind of ball?" I asked. He responded he was a baseball player with the Marlins. Marlins? He told me it was in Miami and that they had just won the World Series. I said, "I guess that's pretty good, huh?" I've watched only one World Series– when the Boston Red Sox won in 2004. I had to see history being made, after all.

One thing I really liked about watching the World Series was the umpires. "You're safe!" You're out!" There was no indecision, no compromise, no interpretation– unlike what you find with sex.

I'm no longer amazed at all the ways people rationalize what is safe sex or why they didn't have safe sex. Wouldn't it be great if baseball umpires were available for all sexual encounters to declare: "You're safe!" or "You're out!"?

I'm not sure what guides a person to make the choice about whether to have safe sex. Education is likely the most important tool we have to help people be safe. However, education isn't enough for some people.

I know a scientist who specializes in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, she doesn't like her boyfriends to wear a condom because she doesn't like them. She knows this is dangerous but just hopes for the best. I hope someday to win Powerball, but I don't invest my 401-K in lottery tickets.

I knew another person who was a leader in HIV prevention. He returned from vacation with an STD because he didn't use a condom. Most people bring home a lousy T-shirt from vacation, but he brought home gonorrhea (fortunately not HIV). When it comes to sex, nothing surprises me. I know of doctors who practice unsafe sex. (By the way, none of these people are my patients.)

There must be a million reasons why some people don't practice safe sex. What I hear the most are, "It ruins the moment." "It's uncomfortable." "I didn't have a condom with me."

With the divorce rate so high these days, many middle age to older women are now experiencing sex in the age of HIV. For these women, asking a man to wear a condom is like asking him to wear a fuzzy bra and girdle– or asking him to take a cold shower. However, most of these women are having sex with older men, which often means the men have erectile dysfunction. So asking a man to wear a condom is one more issue to wrangle over.

Lesbians are relatively lucky. Passing HIV between women is pretty darn difficult. One lesbian friend of mine commented about a hateful HIV slogan, "If HIV is God's punishment on gays, then lesbians are the chosen people." (Keep in mind that 90 percent of people with HIV in the world are straight.)

Today, young single gay men are not as safe as older gay men are. For some reason, there's a false belief that living with HIV is no big deal since medications are saving millions of lives. However, not everyone responds to HIV medications, and they can have significant side effects.

I say, safe sex is fun sex. Don't have sex if you're going to regret it. In the '60s, there was an expression "No glove, no love." It's still true. Put on the glove and save your life.

Got a question? Dr. Hook wants to hear from you!