Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gays, sex, and medicine

Warning: Although this post contains graphic content that some might find offensive, please read it anyway. It just might save your life!

While I have many friends, most of these people are actually casual acquaintances. I take friendship seriously, so I limit real friendship to those people who mean the world to me. The reason I'm saying this is to underscore that my circle of friends is actually not very large.

Over the last two months, several of these real friends have come to me admitting that they had contracted an STD. My friends are not the type of guys who generally sleep around or engage in slutty behavior. These are guys who are usually careful about whom they date and even more careful about what they do on dates--if you get my drift.

As a result of their admissions, I asked a doctor friend of mine about sex and the gay world. He said, and I quote: "BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!"

According to him, the Wasatch Front has a secret STD problem of tremendous magnitude, particularly in the gay community. It seems there are a lot of weekend warriors (guys who are married and monogamous on weekdays, but use the weekends to prowl for a little action, man-on-man). These weekend warriors, my doctor friend suggests, fail to understand that the temple worthy elder's quorum president he just nailed has in fact already been nailed by a dozen other church going, family loving, closet cases. As a result, precautions are not taken and someone winds up getting sick. The real problem is that these guys don't get tested regularly, don't recognize the symptoms easily, put off getting treated, and in blissful ignorance continue to give the gift that keeps on giving.

Unfortunately, the only way to avoid STDs is to practice total abstinence. (Sounds fun, doesn't it.) Now, if you're like a lot of gay guys, abstinence is just not your thing. Fortunately, there is always a second way, a little oniastic exercise that gets your wrists moving and your heart thumping. (If you can't have steak, at least you've got hamburger, right?)

If you're one of those weak minded reprobates that simply can't abstain (isn't that everybody?), then you have to think "reduction." To REDUCE your risk of contracting an STD (notice I said REDUCE , not eliminate), there is the good old suffocation sock (better known as a condom).

Our first rule, my beloved friends and readers, should be--if we don't have a condom, we don't have sex. And our second rule? We don't trust ANYONE, regardless of how virtuous he may seem or virginal he may profess to be.

It just isn't safe.

While we're engaged in sexual activity, we must also remember that although condoms are effective in preventing infection by HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, they will NOT protect us from ulcerative STDs like genital herpes, syphilis, and genital warts.

Speaking of genital warts, they don't just pop up on the genitalia (and you ain't seen ugly until you've seen oral genital warts, boys.) Sad to say, licking the lollipop is not safe sex either. In addition to genital warts, genital herpes can be passed orally, HIV can under certain circumstances be passed orally (although not commonly), and syphilis and chancroid can also be passed with genital oral contact.

Well, at least making out is safe, right? WRONG. In addition to a plethora of common illnesses that are passed by a little mouth-to-mouth, more serious conditions like genital warts, genital herpes, and in certain conditions even syphilis can result from spending too much time smooching on the sofa.

Alright, I've said my say and sang from my soapbox. Now that your plans for the evening are ruined, go take a nice warm shower, jump right into bed, and be glad you're home alone. At least you don't have to worry about those bloody STDs.


  1. Thanks for the heads up, Clive. Great post.

  2. As well, any gay man who is sexually active should be immunized against Hepatitis (specifically HVB, if I recall my doctor's instruction correctly).

    The herpes simplex viruses are transmitted very easily by skin-skin contact (no blood route required, as with HIV), but they're also not transmittable when dormant (though symptoms don't always present when the virus is active). The moral: don't kiss or give/receive oral sex when someone has a cold sore or outbreak of genital herpes.

    HPV (the virus that causes genital warts) is transmittable even when symptoms aren't present, and I've read that most sexually active gay men will contract HPV at one point or another (though they may or may not ever develop warts). Some strains of HPV are linked to cervical and anal cancer (the cervical cancer obviously isn't an issue, but anal cancer doesn't sound fun).

    There is an HPV vaccine available, and the FDA recommends that all young women are vaccinated. To be effective, the vaccine must be administered before the virus is contracted, and so it is generally not administered to post-adolescents (the assumption being that young adults will already be sexually active and will very possibly have already contracted the virus), but an adult male who has been in a monogamous heterosexual marriage his entire life might still benefit from the vaccine--ask your doctor.

    The scarier (and better-known) STDs are mostly only transmittable through direct blood-blood or body fluid-blood routes, and are largely preventable with a bit of caution (and protection, in the form of a condom). HIV can be present in semen, so oral sex when you have any sort of mouth sore (including bleeding gums from overly-vigorous brushing) is a bad idea. Anal sex usually results in small (often microscopic) tears in the rectum, which provides the most common route of infection. And, as you noted, even kissing can be potentially dangerous, if both partners have open sores in or around the mouth (allowing blood-blood contact).

    In all cases, though, a bit of caution and common sense (and a bit of education--don't rely on anything I've said as "fact" without doing a bit of learning on your own) can allow a gay man to have fun with minimal fear of coming down with something nasty.

  3. The HPV vaccine is a great idea it probably should be communicated more widely. Thanks for the input, buddy!

  4. There are about 100 HPV subtypes, 12 of which can cause cancer. Both of the available vaccines cover the two most common of the twelve. One of those two also covers two subtypes that can cause genital warts.

    The FDA has approved the vaccines for women and men ages 9-26. Why those ages? Because that was the group tested in drug company research--a marketing and financial decision. Anyone can benefit from the vaccine, but insurance companies may cover only those fromm 9-25.

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