Communication is a component of any healthy relationship, including a sexual one. In the latter, responsibility necessitates the clear discussion of sexual values and concerns, but many people have so little experience verbalizing their thoughts and opinions about sexuality that actually having sex is easier than discussing it. And yet, prior to the act, it is vital to talk with a potential or current sex partner. The benefits of such open communication are legion and include a heightening of the experience, a significant reduction of both stress and embarrassment, the dispelling of myths and the breaking of stereotypes, and lastly, a greater likelihood that safe(r)-sex techniques and contraceptives (including condoms) will be consistently utilized. In fact, the available evidence shows that sexual partners who talk about condoms and HIV are more likely to use condoms than those who do not. It is generally held that communication between intimate partners about issues of sexuality and HIV prevention is likely to influence the safe(r)-sex practices that follow. If discussing safe(r)-sex with a potential or current partner seems too daunting, doing so with a family member and/or friend may be a good way to begin. However, the ability to talk freely about sex and sexuality with a partner might well be considered a litmus test for engaging in such an intimate, potentially risky act.
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