Central PA's LGBT News Source

Too many don’t know their HIV, STD status

Recommendations to become a healthier man

Posted

Just like all other men, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men need to know how to protect their health throughout their life. For all men, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death. However, compared to other men, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men are additionally affected by:

  • Higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs);
  • Tobacco and drug use;
  • Depression.

There are many reasons why gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men may have higher rates of HIV and STDs. Some of them are:

  • Prevalence of HIV among sexual partners of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men is 40 times that of sexual partners of heterosexual men;
  • Receptive anal sex is 18 times more risky for HIV acquisition than receptive vaginal sex;
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men on average have a greater number of lifetime sexual partners.

Other factors that can negatively impact your health and ability to receive appropriate care:

  • Homophobia;
  • Stigma (negative and usually unfair beliefs);
  • Discrimination (unfairly treating a person or group of people differently);
  • Lack of access to culturally- and orientation-appropriate medical and support services;
  • Heightened concerns about confidentiality;
  • Fear of losing your job;
  • Fear of talking about your sexual practices or orientation.

These reasons and others may prevent you from seeking testing, prevention and treatment services, and support from friends and family.

In fact, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up more than half of the people living with HIV in the United States and experience two thirds of all new HIV infections each year. Further, young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men 13-24 had over 72% of the estimated new HIV infections in 2010. In 2012, 75% of reported syphilis cases were among gay and bisexual men.

The large percentage of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who have HIV and STDs means that, as a group, they have a higher chance of being exposed to these diseases. Too many men don’t know their HIV or STD status (if they have a disease or not), which means they may not get medical care and are more likely to unknowingly spread these diseases to their sexual partners.

Most gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men get HIV by having anal sex, which is the riskiest type of sex for getting or spreading HIV. During anal sex, it’s possible for either partner—the insertive (top) or the receptive (bottom) to get HIV. However, if you are HIV-negative, bottoming without a condom puts you at much greater risk for getting HIV than topping. If you are HIV-positive, being on the top without a condom is riskier for giving HIV to your partner.

LOCAL RESOURSES – Alder Health Services, Hamilton Health Center, York Family First