STI Awareness Month: Talk, Test, Treat

April is STI Awareness Month. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

There are 20 million new STI cases in the U.S. every year.

During STI Awareness Month we focus on raising awareness on STI’s (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and how STI’s affect lives. The focus is on reducing fear, stigma and discrimination while providing both knowledge and tools to the public on how to prevent, test and treat STI’s.

While continuously emphasized that all STI’s can be prevented and treated and most can be cured, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) marks a rise in STD’s among gay and bisexual men. Besides syphilis, the concern for gay, bisexual and MSM are chlamydia and gonorrhea, while HPV is the most common STD in the U.S. Some types of HPV can lead to anal or oral cancer and the statistics aren’t favoring MSM, as they are 17 times more likely to get anal cancer than heterosexual men, and more than half of all new HIV infections occur among MSM, while HIV-positive men are especially vulnerable.

With no signs or symptoms, most STI’s can go undetected. It means that one can get infected without knowing it. In fact, testing is, sometimes, the only way to know your STI status. If you are infected and not being treated, you can pass the infection to your sexual partner(s). Most STI’s are passed on via unprotected sexual contact, which is why the use of condoms is highly recommended. So, by ‘’just practicing oral’’ does not mean you’re safe. Untreated STI’s can lead to serious, sometimes even devastating, and long-term problems, like blindness, bone deformities, and sterility. If you have more than one sexual partner, it is advised to do STI screenings more often (every 3 to 6 months).

Having multiple partners means being at a higher risk of getting infected. Having an STI – like herpes, syphilis, or gonorrhea – also puts you at a higher risk of getting infected with HIV. So getting tested on a regular basis should be a priority. There are many ways to protect yourself and your partner(s). The easiest way protect yourself is to practice safe sex and know your STI status. Vaccination against STI’s is also very important. Openly discussing your STI status with your partner(s) and your healthcare provider is also an important step. Proper condom use, avoiding risky behavior (sex, drugs and rock’n’roll combined all together would be a no in this case) and limiting or better yet controlling the number of partners can also reduce risks of getting and spreading of STI’s.

For more information on how to protect yourself, check out the links below:

How to Prevent STIs (verywellhealth.com)

How to Choose the Best Condom? – GAY NEWS PORTAL

Submitted by: M. Đaković

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