Although they’re not only a problem for gay and bisexual folks, sexually transmitted diseases (STD) like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are more likely to affect men who have sex with other men. Therefore, it’s essential to understand how to keep both yourself and your partner safe. The best way to do so is to learn about prevention. By undergoing frequent tests and sticking to safe sex with condoms, you can avoid any problems in the future.
How Do You Get It
Let’s be frank here — the stats don’t lie. According to numerous health agencies like the “Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” more than 70% of all HIV infections come from men who enjoy sexual intercourse with other men. Unfortunately, not all of them know they’re positive. Statistics show that only one of six people with the virus are aware of their condition.
The human immunodeficiency virus is a dangerous disease. The most common ways a viral load spreads among people are through sexual intercourse or injecting drugs with shared needles. You can catch HIV if you’re in a gay relationship in four different ways:
- Pre-seminal fluids
- Rectal fluids
The main sources of the virus are mucous membranes. You can, of course, find them in your mouth, rectal canal, and penis. Luckily, medicine has some good news for people living with HIV. One can use daily antiretroviral medication to manage their state. Some studies suggest that regular use can reduce HIV to being practically untraceable in blood, so sex can once again become an option.
In case you want to be in sexual contact with someone who has the virus, you can choose to use pre-exposure meds. They can decrease your chances of getting it, but they can’t guarantee it. On the other hand, if you had sex with someone carrying HIV without protection, there’s a remedy as well. You can opt for post-exposure meds in the first three days of being in contact.
Other STIs Aside From HIV
Unfortunately, the human immunodeficiency virus isn’t the only sexually transmitted infection one can catch while having unsafe sex. Some of these others can spread only by being in contact with the skin next to the genitals. Of course, blood and semen will transmit them too if you choose to engage in intercourse with someone positive.
There are numerous STIs, and they all behave differently with unique characteristics. The thing that makes them so tricky and nasty is the fact that some can go through you without showing any symptoms. This only leads to unwanted transitions when people don’t know they’re positive. Some of the most common STIs include:
- Genital herpes
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Genital warts
In case you suspect that you might suffer from one of the STIs, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider. With their help, you’ll be able to understand what to do and how to act. The way to manage your condition will vary depending on what kind of STI you have. Either way, you shouldn’t overlook it as it can up the risk of contracting HIV.
Awareness Is Key
The worst thing you can do is to act carelessly, going around town and fucking everyone and anyone you come across without testing yourself regularly. HIV isn’t something you can joke with. You should take it seriously as many men have lost their lives due to complications that came from their condition.
You should screen your condition both for HIV and other STIs at least annually. This way, you’ll be able to keep your health and take care of your partner and anyone else you come in sexual contact with. There’s nothing worse than transmitting the virus on purpose to people who are unaware of your condition.
The “Center for Disease Control and Prevention” suggests that you should do a test once a year at the very least. And if you frequently engage in sexual intercourse with other men, you should make it even more often. The whole point is that with an early diagnosis, your chances of managing the condition sky-rocket. And if you can ask some of the people who are living with it, they’ll say that you can have it better than they ever did if you discover it on time.
Taking Preventive Measures
Your sexual choices might depend on your knowledge about HIV, but that doesn’t make prevention unimportant. Being careful is always better than taking remedies afterward. Some of these preventive measures are:
- Using condoms and applying lubrication;
- Knowing what different types of sex can transmit;
- Taking vaccine shots against certain STIs;
- Saying no to a situation that can lead to unsafe sex;
- Partners being honest with each other;
- Using pre-exposure meds.
Condoms and Lube
In short, condoms prevent HIV. They stop the sharing of bodily fluids, hence, no virus transmission. It’s best to use latex ones, but you can also go with other synthetic condoms if you’re allergic to latex. On the other hand, lube will prevent the condom from breaking, so you should opt for water-based since you can’t be allergic to them.
Read here for basic prevention of HIV from CDC.
Different Type of Sex — Different Risks
Both oral and anal sex can transmit HIV from one person to another. However, being the one doing all the penetration can reduce the risk. Oral sex has slightly fewer chances of spreading the virus, but it can also be dangerous without protection. Nevertheless, acts that don’t include bodily fluids are of no danger when it comes to HIV, but they might spread other STIs.
Vaccination can help you against various STIs. In case you’re interested, you should talk to your doctor about them. They’re available for men younger than 26, but some argue that they’re safe for people up to 40 years of age.
Avoid Situations That Can Lead to Unsafe Sex and Be Honest With Your Partner
In case you know that a social gathering might lead to drinks and drugs, you should stay aware of the dangers unsafe sex brings. In other words, don’t make poor choices. Besides that, you and your partner should know each other’s status. There’s no reason to hide you’re positive as it can only lead to more problems.