Pass It On?
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are on the rise among gay and bisexual men. CAMP Rehoboth provides FREE HIV and STI testing during most days of the week, on weekends and evenings. Here are six statements that we have heard while talking with guys around Rehoboth that may not be so true.
Not so many gay men have HIV these days.
HIV is more prevalent among gay men now than at any time in the past. The thing is, as a result of effective HIV treatment, more and more guys are living longer with HIV and AIDS. So it follows that there are more chances for others to become infected with the virus. This is what appears to be happening. It is important to remember that HIV is still a serious and incurable virus. It can be managed, but it can still have serious implications for someone’s future health.
Sexually active gay men should have a full sexual health screening at least once a year, and more often if you have unprotected sex or if you think you have been exposed to HIV or any other STI.
You’d know it if you caught an STI.
Lots of people assume that if they had an STI, they’d know about it, but this just isn’t true. The truth is many STIs don’t have symptoms or don’t have symptoms that you’re likely to notice, as is the case with gonorrhea in the throat. If you don’t know you’ve got an STI you’re not going to get treated for it and you’re more likely to pass it on to other guys and this will keep spreading and spreading. Regular sexual health checkups ensure you’re in tip-top condition.
Syphilis is from the Wild West. Nobody gets it now.
The new diagnoses of syphilis is that if left untreated it can cause brain, nerve, and tissue damage. This has increased in Delaware over the past two years. Syphilis is mostly transmitted through bareback and oral sex. Test regularly for syphilis.
You won’t get HIV if you’re a top.
Yes, it’s possible for bareback tops to get HIV. Mucus membranes contain some of the highest levels of HIV. It’s possible to become infected by a positive bottom because the mucus membrane on the head of the penis could absorb the HIV in the guy you’re topping.
You can only catch HIV through anal sex, not oral.
You’re more at risk of HIV getting into your body from oral sex if you have cuts or ulcers in your mouth, or if you have a sore throat, so hold off before you have oral sex until things are healed. The good news is that there are no recorded cases of anyone having caught HIV from oral sex.
Healthy looking guys don’t have STIs.
WHOA! That’s another myth. You can’t tell anything about someone’s sexual health just by looking at them. They can be in the greatest shape and still have an STI. Data from the CDC says that a quarter of gay men haven’t been diagnosed, and so don’t know they are HIV positive. If they don’t know they are positive, what’s the chance of their sexual partner knowing?
CAMPsafe, the HIV/AIDS education and prevention program of CAMP Rehoboth, is funded in part through a contract with the Delaware Division of Public Health. For testing information, call Sal Seeley at 302-227-5620.