What you need to know about STIs
A healthy sex life is something many of us gay guys enjoy, and while this is something we should be proud of, it can occasionally put us at risk of STIs. Testing positive for an STI should be nothing to be alarmed about, however there are ways you can reduce your risk – by testing regularly and using condoms. So what does STI mean?
STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. STIs can sometimes be transmitted when guys fuck or engage in oral sex, through any exchange of fluids (semen, saliva and blood) or skin to skin contact.
There are many types of STIs and they can be viral, bacterial or parasitic in nature. Many do not show symptoms, which is why regular testing is critical to avoid long-term effects on your health.
What are some common STIs?
Most guys will probably know many of the more common or viral STIs. These include:
Bacterial STIs include:
STI Symptoms in Gay Men
Most common STIs show symptoms that begin as irritations and pain around the arse, penis or balls (Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea). Others like Hepatitis A, B and C appear as flu-like symptoms and fatigue. STIs which do show symptoms in men can vary on a case by case basis. A lot of guys show no symptoms at all, so having a regular testing regime established can be a good idea for catching and treating STIs early.
Testing For STIs
Regular STI testing is the best way to identify if you have contracted an STI, and is particularly important if you are sexually active. If you haven’t been tested before, or it’s been a while it could be a good idea to get a full sexual health screen.
A STI screen involves:
- A swab of your throat
- Urine testing
- An anal swab
- A urethral (penis or front hole) swab
- A blood test to detect HIV and other STIs
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of a specific STI it is important to let your sexual health specialist or doctor know so that they can advise the most appropriate testing and treatment options.
You can find out more about where to get tested in New South Wales by using our where to get tested tool here.
STI Prevention Methods
While HIV transmission can be prevented using a combination of condoms, PrEP and UVL, condoms remain one of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting an STI.
With this in mind it is important when using latex condoms to use water based lube, as oils or moisturising creams can cause breakage, exposing your body to potential STIs.
Find a place to get an STI test near you
You can help end HIV and STI transmission by using condoms and testing for STIs regularly. Find a STI testing service near you using our ‘Where to test’ tool. If you live in Sydney, you can take advantage of our “walk-in” Xpress STI only testing service at a[TEST] Oxford Street. No bookings required.