COVID Safer Sex Guidelines from the San Francisco Sex-Positive Democratic Club

When it comes to public health, individual choices can have far-reaching repercussions. The San Francisco Sex-Positive Democratic Club views public policy through a harm-reduction lens. 

We encourage everyone to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 while we seek better treatment and a vaccine. At the same time, we don’t believe it’s realistic to believe everyone, everywhere is going to only have sex with people they’re living with.

The SF Department of Health has released COVID-19 recommendations. As you navigate decisions on sex and COVID, we wanted to offer some additional science-based suggestions for making hooking up a little safer. 

  • Ask your partner when they’ve last been tested for COVID-19. A recent negative test is a good signal. But keep in mind that with delays in test results it’s no guarantee. 
  • If your partner has already had COVID-19, make sure it’s been more than 10 days since their symptoms began, they have been fever-free for more than 24 hours without using fever-reducing drugs, and their other symptoms have improved. (Caveat: Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and need not delay the end of isolation​.)
  • Ask your partner if they’ve recently experienced any loss of taste or smell or any other COVID symptoms. Also remember that COVID-19 also spreads asymptomatically and your partner might be contagious 48 to 72 hours before they start having symptoms.
  • Take your partner’s temperature before going into an enclosed space or swapping bodily fluids. Again, this isn’t foolproof, but it can help avoid unnecessary exposure.
  • Ask your partner about their COVID exposure. 
    • How many people do they regularly interact with indoors without a mask? 
    • How about inside with a mask? 
    • What quality of masks are they wearing? 
    • Have they been in close contact with anyone who has recently been diagnosed? 
    • Are they an essential worker? 
    • Do they work in healthcare? 

Having a conversation about your risk and theirs can help you both make an informed decision about whether or not the sex is worth the risk. 

  • Consider forming a pandemic pod which includes sexual partners. 
  • Consider wearing masks while hooking up. Ideally N95 masks without vents. Might be a good time to experiment with fetish masks
  • Hook up outside if possible. If you need to be inside, keep the windows open. If that’s not possible, use an air purifier. Be mindful of Japan’s “three C’s” for contracting the virus: closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings.
  • Try to keep your time in close proximity to 30 minutes or less.
  • Use barrier methods including condoms and dental dams for oral and anal play. Coronavirus has been found in semen and poop.
  • Experiment with glory holes.

It’s important to remember that risk is just one side of the risk/reward equation. While for some, sex is not worth any risk, for others it’s worth a lot. Just like for some, a massage or haircut is worth a lot of risk. The goal is to allocate your risk budget according to your preferences and to reduce as much low-reward risk as is practical.  

“Ignoring benefits at either the individual or the societal level comes with its own risks,” wrote Why is This Interesting? author Noah Briar of risk/reward calculations for COVID-19. “Abstinence education, for example, has been shown to be correlated with increases in teen pregnancy and STD rates in the United States. When it comes to public health, balancing personal and societal benefits with the associated risks is near the top of the list of concerns.”

For a list of comprehensive information on testing, resources, and other facts regarding COVID-19, please visit You can also text COVID19SF to 888-777 to get alerts for official updates from the City and County of San Francisco.

The San Francisco Sex-Positive Democratic Club exists to advance the ideals of Sex-Positivity in local governance and discourse. Sex-Positivity is a philosophy that all consensual sexual behavior between adults is inherently healthy and supports all sexual orientations, gender identities, relationship styles, opposes censorship, and supports sexual minorities, regardless of race, class, religion, ability, or ideology. 

We support public policies that advance this mission at the local, regional, state, and national level. We help elect qualified Sex-Positive candidates, including those who are: non-monogamous, kinky, sex-workers, LGBTQ, and members of other alternative sexual communities, as well as their allies. We work to sensitize and educate all Democratic candidates and officeholders, the Democratic Party in general, and the community at large, to the issues and concerns of these communities. To learn more, head to:

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  • Catherine Reisenwitz
    published this page in SFSPD Blog 2020-10-22 11:02:45 -0700