Rim Without Fear

May 27, 2009
Category: Health

Dear Kirk,
I have been dating an HIV+ man for about 2 months. We've had sex twice and the sex was great. Careful always, and  I've never found putting on a condom so erotic. He really knows how to make it sexy.  What I want to know is, I love to rim. This man has a GORGEOUS, hairy ass, and all I can think about is burying my face in it. How dangerous is this, and is there any way to do it safely? I'd like to know if it's considered low risk, high risk, or whatever, but I'd really also like to know if it CAN be done safely. I've heard that Saran Wrap, or something like it, can be used, but are these water soluble, or permeable, or whatever they call it. Please let me know, because I'm SO HUNGRY!!!

Dear Hungry Jack,

What’s more primal than sticking your nose up a guy’s butt? We really ARE dogs.

I’m not a doctor, but I spent a number of years as an HIV/STD test counselor in a small community-based clinic for sex workers. When you get safer sex information, you have to consider the source. Whether you’re shopping for a flat screen TV or learning about syphilis, I think it’s always good to gather information from multiple sources, then use your own judgment to determine what makes sense to you. In counseling sessions, I have spent a lot of time talking terrified people down from trees. Public health agencies have done such a good job scaring the hell out of us that many people have received simplistic and incorrect information about STD and HIV risk. By lumping everything together (oral sex, rimming, anal sex, water sports) and not giving people very specific knowledge about what is risky and what isn’t, I think that many safer sex campaigns have actually harmed the larger effort to keep people safe.

There’s a concept in HIV counseling called the “spectrum of risk.” I find that it’s a really helpful framework for thinking about any sort of behaviors, whether it’s sex, food or drugs. This means that some things are high risk, some things are no risk, and most things are somewhere in between. For instance, having unprotected receptive anal sex with an HIV positive partner is higher risk, whereas giving an HIV positive man a blowjob (even if he shoots in your mouth) is very low to no risk. But there are all sorts of other factors to consider: having an STD could make you more susceptible to other STDs; having a cold could lower your body’s immune response; a guy who’s recently been infected with HIV is more infectious. Guys who have recently been infected often think they’re still HIV-negative. In short, it’s a lot more complicated than we have been led to believe.

A major thing to consider is hepatitis A and B, both of which are transmissible through rimming. If you're sexually active at all, you should have both of these vaccinations. Hep A is a two shot series and Hep B is a three shot series. Hep A can knock you out for over a month and Hep B can turn chronic, so you definitely don't want to risk getting either.

Rimming is low to no risk for HIV transmission because the mouth is such a hostile environment for HIV, which is a fragile virus that dies quickly when exposed to air or saliva. Parasites and amebas are something to consider here, some of which are harder to get rid of than others. The standard treatment of Flagyl is pretty hardcore and will leave you tired for days. If you've got HIV or other health issues already, getting intestinal bugs on top of that could be really serious. You could lower your risk for these critters, which get transmitted from anal/oral contact, by using saran wrap or a dental dam. You’re right that plastic wraps have some permeability, although plastic would be more effective than not using anything. I will step out here and say that I never use dental dams or plastic. Sometimes we take risks in order to have the kind of sex we want. The amount of risk you take will depend on the number of partners you have and what you guys do together. Think it through based on your situation.

Taking a probiotic supplement and eating yogurt can bolster your digestive tract to fight off any critters you might be exposed to while eating your man’s hot, hairy butt. Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful herbal remedy that kills over 800 bacteria and parasites. It tastes disgusting, but it works. Think of it this way: you taste something you really hate in order to taste something you really like.

Tags: Advice, Safe Sex
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another tip I've heard: don't brush your teeth right before you do the dirty. Mouthwash is a go, but toothbrushing can lead to open wounds. By all means brush your teeth after "eating" though ;)

actually what ive heard is if hiv is on a needle for example, it can last many hours on that needle exposed to open air or even days, i cant remeber how long exactly, but its not exactly as fragile as you might think. but again, theres always mixed reviews on this subject.

I agree with your advice. But I can't resist being rankled by the business about health information sources being simplistic and things being more complicated "that we've been led to believe." I started out working in the AIDS field back in 84 and was involved in creating and publicizing safer sex info in my area of the world. We certainly used the spectrum of risk concept but immediately got shot at for being too detailed and confusing or too repressively sex-negative or too irresponsibly sex-positive. We were told to keep it simple and focus on the biggies: anal and oral sex. Then that was considered condescending and incomplete.

One thing I learned in my years in community work is that there's no pleasing people.

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I agree with your comment about the HIV virus being very fragile. I worked in sterile services in local Hospital some years ago, and when dealing with surgical instruments that had been used on patients who were HIV+ we were told the virus only lives a very short time outside the body, and we only needed to take the normal protection proceedures we used, as the risk was low. We were told the virus cannot survive in stomach acid or mouth saliva for long, and even normal household disinfectants and bleach kill it easily. However, that is no reason to ignore the risks, and always err on the side of caution and be careful. As another posting has said, the virus is passed more easily via blood / wound contact, and things like mouth ulcers or having gum infection or occasional bleeding after cleaning your teeth would make transmission much easier, so in those circumstances extra care would essential.

and what about Hepatitis

Some intestinal parasites, pathogenic amoebas for example, can be very difficult to eradicate and can even invade the liver or cause anemia through perforations in the intestinal wall. Both overstating and understating risks serves no one well. What is uncontroversial, however, is that you will have to live with the consequences of your behavior that may extend far beyond the transient pleasure of the original sex act. The only way to rim unprotected without fear is to ignore the risk and its possible consequences or otherwise ignore your own, honest feelings that advise caution. I suppose it is understandable that a sex worker would have an economic motive in ignoring or minimizing risks. To counsel the same ignorance for others, however, is simply irresponsible.

Totally irresponsible to advise rimming--as comments above have noted, the risk of hepatitis B/C, potentially fatal diseases, and bugs like shigella (a friend recently nearly died, after a rimming-meth party, from the effects of this "easily treatable" disease--diarrhea and dehydration can be deadly). Is the brief sexual pleasure worth that risk? Mr. Read, if you're taking the responsibility of counseling people, use a little common sense.

Maybe the problem was the METH PARTY!!! I believe we're talking of a 1 on 1 budding relationship here. NOT an orgy... that's REALLY asking for it!

I agree. All of those PNP boys get what they deserve...such reckless disregard for themselves and those who care for them.

Kirk, Kirk, Kirk

I see you've reverted to dispensing bad advice, huh. I'm appalled at your statement :"But as far as I’m concerned, when it’s an easily treatable STD, it’s a risk that’s worth taking in order to have better sex"

You have got to be kidding!!!!!!!!!!! You really should be put out to pasture with advice like this. My gawddddddddd man!!!!!!

Hey Justin -- Do you know what "quote marks" mean? I ask because I cannot find the statement you supposedly quoted. some people would call that libel to attribute false statements to an individual.

As someone who contracted Hepatitus B from thios very source, I would say please be careful.

Thanks to the people who've referenced Hepatitis A/B.
In rereading this, I can't believe I forgot to include the paragraph in the final version about hepatitis A and B vaccinations, which are critical for anyone who is sexually active. I had hepatitis A 10 years ago and it was awful.
In trying to shorten this piece for the internet, which favors shorter things, this part got inadvertantly left out. I apologize.

rimming is gross

You STILL did not address Hep C..........why?
Do I need to worry about getting it from rimming? Thanks for your reply.....

Hep C is mostly needle transmitted. Unless there's a lot of blood-to-blood contact, it's super hard to get. Even unprotected anal sex, as long as it's not so rough as to cause a bunch of bleeding, is pretty darn safe for Hep C.

Still no cause to be a jackass, but it's a pretty hard bug to get without sharing needles/cookers. I did a bunch of work at a needle exchange, so this is just the info I've picked up.

Rimming is not Gross !!! If the man with the hot butt has cleaned it with soap and water (like in a bath or shower) --- rimming is a very wonderful experience for the person being rimmed. For those of us who choose to show our affection by kissing butt -- It's wonderful. I've been rimming for years and I've used saran wrap only once and that was because my sex partner had some anal sores and wanted to protect me.

Kirk -- Keep up the great writing. --- Bill

If a negative bottom had a bare back sex with a postive guy, and if that guy cums in bottoms ass, is that bottom getting infected? what are the probabilities. I love bare back sex, love raw sex, but so afraid of HIV, any advise from anyone

Hi Anonymous: You should better ask yourself: a) "If I had bareback sex with an untested negative guy could I still get infected (because this guy in reality could be positive without knowing) and b) "If I had bareback sex with a positive man (who is on medication with undetectable viral load) could I still get infected?"

Read my comment for further information and useful links to a recent news.bbc article.


Zero risk with a positive man? People ask "are you positive or negative" forgetting that there are more categories like

a) positive - regularly tested, taking medication resulting in undetectable viral count
b) positive - taking drugs and joining bareback bug sharing parties
c) negative - regularly tested doing safe sex always
d) negative - never tested, saying "I am clean HIV - UB2" in the profile and insisting on raw sex
e) like (d) but unknowingly infected for years and spreading the virus because it's cool and masculine to have unprotected sex with other "clean" men.

Should you not better ask somebody in the bar:
(-) When was the last time you tested negative
(+) Are you taking your HIV medication regularly and how low is your viral load?

This comment http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/8069710.stm brings it to the point...

"Positive people on anti-HIV drugs who adhere to their regimes are probably the safest group within society. The level of HIV in their bodies is so low that transmission is indeed almost impossible. As their status is known and monitored they prevent no risk - whereas all other groups still do."

The real controversy starts if you would write (like Cecile comments):
"the message is that those who are treated can very well go out and have unprotected sex"

Read full news.bbc article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8068074.stm

Regarding rimming - it makes a difference if someone is turned on (or off) weather it's clean, ripe or dirty.

via http://www.fitoldermen.com


So then fitoldermen,

A positive guy who has undetectable viral count, is he HIV negative?

To Justin - No, a positive guy with an undetectable viral load is still HIV-positive. An undetectable viral load means the HIV meds are doing their job and the positive man is considerably less likely to transmit HIV. The meds don't "cure" HIV because they don't eliminate the virus from your body entirely. And if you stop taking the meds, the virus typically comes back strong over time.

This article is pretty good but fails to report that you can now take a combo vaccine for Hepatitis A & B now. I'd advise any sexually active guy to get the vaccine, especially if rimming is one of the activities you enjoy.

Also, I wouldn't dismiss the impact that a case of parasites can have on a person. They can be hard to treat and get rid of. And if you already have a compromised immune system from HIV, a case of parasites is a bitch on the body.

I taught safer sex classes for well over a decade in Atlanta, GA, and I've been poz for 16 years, so that's how I know.

Thanks for adding this important pieces in that puzzle, urbansquirrel. Maybe Justin means (feels) to aks "A positive guy who has undetectable viral count, can I play with him like with a (really) HIV negative?

That's a very important question. I would even consider saying yes - maybe - if you feel comfortable with it. It occurred to me yesterday when we where playing with a married un-outed butch, masculine, beefy, hairy, mature married man. We negotiated with him what would be be done and how and he said: "Is it ok for you if we play safe? I don't mind if somebody is positive as long as you fist me with gloves." He did not even ask ARE you negative - he wanted to play (and stay) safe.

The other extreme is someone in the bar who asks you right away "are you doing bareback?" Should you consider someone like this negative, still negative, positive, a soon positive bug chaser or ignorant?


I think Justin's question was pretty straightforward, so it didn't really call for me to try to figure out what he means. If you're positive, you're positive. Being undetectable does not change that fact, though reliable studies suggest it does make those of us who are living with HIV less infectious and unlikely to transmit HIV. That's not the same thing as being negative. And with the lack of education and prevention efforts out there these days, I think we should be very careful not to mislead anyone or provide misinformation. Justin needs to know that undetectable doesn't mean you've reverted back to negative.

If someone in a bar (or online) asks me right away, "are you doing bareback?," all it tells me is that he's looking to fuck or get fucked. I would need to have further communication with him to determine if he's poz, negative, indifferent or just clueless.

I consider that anyone who is sexually active and claims to be HIV negative may NOT be, and may not know his actual status. Instead, I appreciate as truthful an answer like "I am sexually active. I was tested 3 months ago and the test was negative. But I've had sex several times since, so .... who knows! I don't want to risk you getting HIV, so let's play safe, ok?" I'm HIV positive. I was infected by a healthy looking man who claimed he was negative and a 100% top and so it was OK to go BB. Right. My bad. Who knows if he knew.

I got giardia very, very badly from rimming my boyfriend. It also did not show up in the tests the first time so it came back despite a treatment with antibiotics. I was thus sick for three months, had to not finish my semester at school, and I lost 20 lbs.

This columnists is full of bad advice and old seventies style thinking in general.

What kind of advice is this? Is Kirk rimming with the mantle of “I am not a doctor, but I spent a number of years as an HIV/STD test counselor”? Christ, with credentials like that who needs experts?

The challenge today for gay men is to encourage and promote safe sex practices within the hardest-hit of communities, our own community. One does that NOT by touting the virtues of eating a sweltering and fermenting butthole, but rather, by taking a more sensible and safe tone in avoiding behaviors that increase one’s overall risk of exposure to disease. What if, for example, there is a micro-tear in the anal epithelium, and some ass-juice makes its way into the mouth of an unsuspecting ass-licker with advanced dental/gum disease? Although the risk of HIV transmission is low, that doesn’t mean the behavior itself is totally free of risk. Does a hot, hairy man-hole obviate the risk?

Now that HIV/AIDS is similar to other, more mainstream conditions like diabetes or hypertension, we have to continually remind ourselves there is no cure for HIV infection. Though we have antiretroviral therapy (ART) to keep virus at bay and improve quality of life for people who can, at least, afford the drugs, the HIV virus continues to deftly mutate and change its appearance, rendering soon all the currently best HIV medicines ineffective and clinically useless. What then? Does that puckering, ever-twitching bung-hole still look good for the eating?

How do we responsibly come to terms with the pandemic if we continue to promote sexual behaviors that do not mitigate our collective risk? Kirk should have taken a cue from his fellow blogger, Cyrus, who penned the ironic “The End of Gay Apathy” a week earlier. Worrying how gay blogger Perez Hilton’s tirade against “free speech” bimbo Carrie Prejean adversely affects mainstream America’s view of gay people pales in significance to Kirk’s bottom-feeding advice. Why tongue-lash Hilton when you have Kirk advocating a sexual practice that increases, rather than decreases, a gay man’s risk of negative outcomes? After more than 25 years of disease, death and destruction at the hands of a tiny, fragile retrovirus that continues to kill millions, I think gay men deserve better advice.

End of gay apathy, huh? Hardly.

--Rik (Rikbutt, Daddy Hunt Member, 6/3/09 = WED)

"Whether you’re shopping for a flat screen TV or learning about syphilis, I think it’s always good to gather information from multiple sources, then use your own judgment to determine what makes sense to you." Am reminded of the EPA under Bush Jr -- we'll just cut all that sciency stuff about global warming cuz, in our own judgment, it just doesn't make sense to us.

Kirk, do you truly mean to say that in one's quest for info about syphilis, one needs more than medical science? That all those fanciful tales about spirochetes could indeed be simple fanciful tales? I pray to the Almighty this is merely a poor choice of words, for if indeed such a sentence reflects your actual thought processes, we are doomed. And if you're getting paid to write this, your employer oughta be spanked.


Sounds like hungry Jack happily rims guys that state they are negative and has some awareness of the risks involved. He is asking about HIV transmition and rimming. Kirk's few paragraph response and recommendation to look for more information is well stated. I was in poz/neg relationship for 6 years and remained negative even with high risk behavior.

Rimming Without Fear

Using Saran Wrap for rimming is safe. Is not water soluble, non porous. I use it all the time. Just make sure you cover most of the butt and with your fingers push it in the crack, not inside the hole. Use some KY so it stays in place. Have fun!!

Positive people on anti-HIV drugs who adhere to their regimes are probably the safest group within <a href=http://freezfile.com>society</a> . The level of HIV in their bodies is so low that transmission is indeed almost impossible. As their status is known and monitored they prevent no risk - whereas all other groups still do.

So Hungry:
Use a dental dam.

You can get HIV from rimming and being rimmed but you are more likely to get intestinal parasites and Hepatitis A, B, and C from it.

Actually people who are POZ even if they are on Anti-Viral drugs and take them regularly can give negative people HIV and they can pass along and get other strains of HIV.

HIV reinfection or cross/co-infection is NOT a myth despite the fact that most men who are Poz think that it is or that it never/rarely happens when this is not true at all.

The foundation of HIV prevention for decades has always been one of proactive assumption of responsibility for one's own health: assume your partner is positive and act accordingly.

Accurately being able to assess someone as HIV negative is fraught with all sorts of potholes, starting with everyone's favorite: "My last test was neg." The average, standard test given to detect HIV antibodies can, "officially," only account for the period of time ending 6 months before the test, some suggest 3 months , others suggest 6 weeks before. So right there, that blows any degree of ABSOLUTE (once you're HIV positive, you're ABSOLUTELY positive, so talking in absolutes is highly relevant) reliability out the window. A guy could test regularly, every 6 months, become infected during a window period, and still think he is HIV negative since his last result indicated such.

Any other ballyhoo around status is just moot because of that. Whether someone is lying about their status. Whether someone is out there "stealthing" - that's the biggest joke... those idiots who think they are purposely infecting others... sorry, but its actually those who become infected who bear the greater burden of responsibility - who bear it all I would argue. Whether you are in a "monogamous" relationship ("monogamy" is not an actual state, it's only an ideal, because it can never be proved ABSOLUTELY). Whether you are all "top." And this nonsense regarding HIV positive men in different classes based on viral load and adherence to a med regime. Good gried.

I'm not arguing for or against statistics and probabilities - I'm an HIV negative top who for 15 years has exclusively barebacked, indiscriminate of status, hundreds and hundreds of anonymous partners, and curable STD's a total of 4 times, I don't have herpes, and I've not had symptoms of other low-lying STD's, I've made my decisions based on analysis of statistics - but for those of you hanging on statistics as your lifeline, trying to reconciling the probability of becoming HIV infected (i dunno, pick a number, 75%?) with actual, 100% ABSOLUTE reality of being HIV positive.

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