IF YOU’RE PLANNING ON GOING TO CARNAVAL in Brazil, there’s a good chance you’re going to be hooking up. That’s cool, no one’s judging: if we were going, we’d be doing it too. But, even in a regular year, we’d probably give you an obligatory piece of advice: Practice safe sex.

It’s not exactly hard to do: when I was in Salvador, Brazil for Carnaval about 9 years back, random people walked through the streets handing out condoms. They were free, and they were everywhere. But there are still people who insist on not using condoms when they have sex, and this, at the best of times, is dangerous. And this is not the best of times: in Brazil right now, there’s a pandemic of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that is usually not life-threatening but has been linked to birth defects in unborn babies.

As we have written elsewhere, there’s no need to panic: a lot of the hype around this disease is overblown, and if you’re not a pregnant woman and are not trying to get pregnant, the risk to your person is minimal, and you shouldn’t necessarily cancel that trip down to Carnaval. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, maybe put off the trip until next year, but otherwise, you’re fine.

But, if you are going, and if you’re planning on hooking up: practice safe sex. First and foremost, since the disease does the most harm to unborn babies, you do not want to be getting pregnant, so women on the birth control pill should stay on it for their trip. But now we also have evidence that Zika can be transmitted sexually. So theoretically, a man could get a woman pregnant and also give her the Zika virus in a single instance of unprotected sex. So men should wear a condom, too. I mean, you should anyway, but it’s a particularly dick move if you don’t this year.

Have fun at Carnaval!

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