Sex and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
UPDATED August 20, 2021
The best way to protect yourself from COVID is to get vaccinated. Making sure your partner is vaccinated is important too: that gives you both the most protection. To find a vaccine near you, go to https://www.vaccines.gov or your state or local health department’s websites.
We know a lot more about COVID than we used to. But because it’s so new, there’s still a lot we don’t know. While that’s frustrating, we will do the best we can to tell you what the science currently says.
The new Delta strain of COVID spreads very quickly, which means people who have not yet gotten vaccinated are at greater risk. Additionally, some people who have been vaccinated can get reinfected with the new strain.
We know now that people who are vaccinated can still get infected, but that doesn’t mean vaccines don’t work. Vaccines are very effective at keeping you from getting seriously ill. Very few people who have already gotten vaccinated and get reinfected have to go to the hospital. The vast majority of COVID patients in hospitals were never vaccinated.
Many people who get reinfected have no symptoms, and when they do, the symptoms can be relatively minor. We still don’t know what kind of long-term effects a reinfection may have.
Unvaccinated and vaccinated people can both transmit COVID to others. It’s expected that people who have symptoms are more likely to transmit COVID than people who do not.
We expect the federal government will soon recommend that people who got the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine get a booster shot eight months after being vaccinated. Trials are still going on to determine what the recommendations will be for people who got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Boosters will provide added protection.
Since vaccinated people can get reinfected and transmit COVID, it’s still important to wear masks, especially indoors. Here are some considerations to help you make a decision regarding your sexual partners:
- If you and your partner are both fully vaccinated, both of you have some protection from getting seriously ill or needing to be hospitalized. However, you can still give each other COVID.
- If one of you is vaccinated and the other is at high risk for complications from COVID (including HIV+ individuals who have advanced HIV disease or detectable viral loads, people over 50, and others who are immunocompromised) it’s a good idea to wear masks.
- If neither of you are fully vaccinated, it’s even more important to wear masks.
- The more sexual partners you have, the greater the risk of getting COVID – or transmitting it.
- If you’re not feeling well, it’s a good idea to not have sex until you’re feeling better. If your symptoms resemble those of COVID (fever, cough, fatigue, new loss of taste or smell, or others), make sure you get tested.
You should still get tested periodically, particularly if you have symptoms. If you’ve been around someone who’s infected, get tested three to five days after you might have been exposed.
Keep checking the CDC’s website for updates.
We’ve faced a lot of challenges as a community. We can overcome this one as well.