If you are sexually active, you must know how to protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases. Anyone who has sex can catch an STD, but men who choose to have sex with men are affected more often.
What are sexually transmitted diseases?
Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that can be transmitted from one individual to another via intimate physical contact and sexual activities. STDs are extremely common in the United States. Half of the sexually active people contract one or more STDs by the time they turn 25.
Are gay men at higher risk of contracting an STD?
Anyone who indulges in sexual activity can contract an STD, bisexual and sexually active gay are at a higher risk of catching an STD. The incidence of syphilis among gay men is substantially higher. Also more than half of all new HIV infection cases occur among gay men. There are several crucial factors that contribute to the higher rates of STDs among gay men:
- Increasing rates of STDs and HIV among the gay increase an individual’s risk of coming into contact with an infected sexual partner and becoming infected themselves.
- Specific behaviors – such as having anal sex and not using condoms can increase the risk of catching STDs.
- Discrimination, stigma, homophobia can negatively affect the health of bisexual and gay men.
How do STDs spread?
Sexually transmitted diseases mainly spread due to sexual contact with someone who already has an STD. Sexual contact includes oral, vaginal and anal sex, and even genital skin-to-skin contact falls under the same category.
Some of the sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HPV spread via sexual fluids like semen. Other STDs, including hepatitis B and HIV spread through blood. Syphilis, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV) usually spread via genital skin-to-skin contact.
How do you know if you have contracted an STD?
Most of the sexually transmitted diseases do not show any symptoms or signs. You or your partner could be infected and still not know about it. The only approach to know your STI status is to get yourself screened regularly. You can look around for a clinic in your vicinity to ensure you get timely checkups and proper treatments if required.
Having an STDI, such as herpes, makes it a lot easier to contract HIV. It is imperative to get screened at least once a year to care for yourself, as well as, your partner’s health. CDC recommends gay and bisexual men get screened for:
- Hepatitis B
- HIV at least once a year.
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia of the penis in case you have been into anal sex or received oral sex in the last 12 months.
- Hepatitis C based on different risk factors.
- Gonorrhea and chlamydia of the rectum in case you have had receptive anal sex in the last 12 months.
- Gonorrhea of the throat in case you have had oral sex (involving your mouth on your partner’s anus, vagina, or penis) in the last 12 months.
- Oftentimes, healthcare practitioners also suggest herpes test.
Professional healthcare providers offer the best care if you consider discussing your sexual history openly with them. Make sure to get in touch with a provider you are comfortable with. You can also ask them to recommend STD tests which you can get done from a low-cost or free, confidential STD testing location nearby. Alternatively you can screen yourself at home. We have a STD test kit available for only $99 USD to test yourself on the most occurring STDs.
Can STDs be cured?
Some of the sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can be treated with the help of antibiotics. If you have ever been treated for a sexually transmitted infection, be certain to finish all of your medication, even if you start feeling better after the first dose. Ensure to get your partner tested and treated, as well. It is vital to remember that you are at high risk for the same or new STD every time you are having sex without using a condom or having sex with someone who already has an STD.
STDs such as HIV and herpes cannot be cured, but medication can be prescribed to manage the symptoms.
How can you protect yourself against STDs.
Gay or bisexual men, who choose to be sexually active should know that they are at a higher risk of catching STDs. On the other hand, there are several aspects an individual can work on to protect their health irrespective of their sexual orientation. First and foremost, it is imperative to learn about how STDs actually spread and how you can play a role in reducing the risk of getting infected.
Get Yourself Vaccinated – Bisexual and gay men are at higher risk for Hepatitis A, B and Human papillomavirus (HPV). For this reason the CDC recommends that men should get themselves vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. the HPV vaccination is also recommended for men up to the age of 26.
Be Protective – it is important to get yourself regularly screened and vaccinated. There are several other aspects you can work on to reduce the risk of catching STDs:
- Get to know your partner before establishing a sexual relationship with them. Talk honestly and openly about STDs and get screened – before you have sex.
- Make use of condoms and dental dams correctly and use one every time you have sex.
- Avoid mixing recreational drugs or alcohol with sex. For instance, when you are high or drunk, you are very likely to make decisions that increase your risk of catching an STD, such as having unprotected sex.
- Ensure to limit your number of sexual partners to just one. This helps you reduce the risk for STDs as you would only be having sex with one person and your partner will only have sex with you.
Know your STD Status – if you know whether you have an STD you will be able to take proper steps to protect yourself and your partner from contracting STDs.
The 3 reasons why gay men are more likely to get HIV
For any bisexual or gay man, it is very likely to contract HIV via unprotected sex than an average straight guy. There are several reasons as to why more than 80 percent of the HIV diagnoses today are among bisexual and gay men.
- It is easier to catch HIV from Anal Sex
Gay men are 18 times more like to catch HIV via anal and unprotected sex than unprotected vaginal sex. It has been scientifically proven that anal sex is a lot riskier compared to vaginal sex when it is about HIV. There are two prime reasons for it. Firstly, the cells in the anus are a lot more susceptible to HIV compared to the cell present in the vagina. Secondly, both rectal mucosa and semen carry more HIV viral load than vaginal fluid. Gay men tend to have more anal sex, which makes them more prone to catching HIV and other STDs.
- There are a lot of gay men already living with HIV
In a recent study, 1 in every 15 gay and bisexual men were found to have HIV infection. So, if you have a sexual preference for men, you are more likely to meet someone who already has HIV. On the other hand, there is a 20 percent chance that the individual with HIV does not even know it yet.
- The gay community is more closely connected
The fact is that there are fewer bisexual and gay men than there are straight men and women around. So, when you are meeting a man for casual sex, the pool of people you have to pick your partner from is relatively smaller. This makes the bisexual and gay community much more closely related, sexually, than people with straight sexual orientation. It also leads to the quick transmission of HIV and other STDs from one infected person to another.
Get yourself screened
Knowing your STD and HIV status allows you to get rapid access to proper treatment and support, and also prevent yourself from passing it on to your partner(s). Using lube and condoms every time you have anal sex is the most effective and wide-spread approach that helps prevent the spread of STDs, particularly HIV. The more times you consider having anal sex without using condoms, the more often you should think about getting yourself and your partner tested.
Screening for sexually transmitted diseases is crucial today, especially when it comes to testing for gay and bisexual men. If you notice any symptoms or just are being protective about your health and the health of your partner, you may choose to have confidential HIV rapid testing service. The best part is, you can obtain the results in max 20 minutes.