There are many steps you can take to have safer sex, to protect yourself from catching or spreading HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS. HIV can be spread whenever infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids enter another person's body. The risk of contracting the disease is thought to vary by sexual practice. Doctors believe that anal intercourse without a condom is the riskiest behavior; next to that is unprotected vaginal intercourse. While not foolproof, using a latex condom with a water-based lubricant does offer some protection against HIV. Or, you can use polyurethane condoms, with any type of lubricant. You should be aware that HIV can also be transmitted by oral sex, though this is a less-frequent method of transmission than intercourse. Placing a condom on the penis or using a latex shield on the vaginal area prior to oral sex can help reduce the risk. Still other types of sexual expression are thought to pose less danger of HIV infection than oral sex or intercourse. A few examples are massage, kissing, and hand-to-genital contact, as long as your hands are clean, and no cuts or sores are present on either partner. As an extra precaution, vinyl gloves can be used. To find out more about safer sex methods, consult a doctor.