FREQUENTLY ASKED STIs QUESTIONS

EMH is a safe space for guys into guys! Our goal? Making sure you are in the know about sexual health without the boring stuff. IYKYK! 

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about STIs (sexually transmitted infections):

1. What STIs are more common among gay and bisexual men?
Some STIs, such as HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhea, may be more prevalent in the gay and bisexual male population. Understanding the risks can help in prevention.

2. How often should I get tested for STIs?
The frequency of testing may depend on your sexual activity. Regular testing, at least once or twice a year, is often recommended, but it may be more frequent for those with multiple partners.

3. What are the symptoms of common STIs in men?
Some common symptoms may include sores or bumps on the genitals or in the oral or rectal area; painful or burning urination; or discharge from the penis but there are many others. That’s why it’s important to knowing the symptoms of different STIs to ensure early detection and treatment. Some infections may not show obvious symptoms, making regular testing essential.

4. How can I protect myself from STIs during anal sex?
Using condoms consistently and correctly is a primary method of protection. Water-based or silicone-based lubricants can also reduce the risk of condom breakage.

5. Can I get STIs from oral sex?
Yes, some STIs can be transmitted through oral sex. Using barriers like dental dams or condoms during oral sex can help reduce the risk.

6. What is PrEP, and how does it work?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a preventive medication for HIV. It involves taking a daily pill to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. It’s essential to understand how to take it consistently for maximum effectiveness. It’s important to remember that PrEP only protects against HIV (if you are HIV negative), it does not protect against other STIs.

7. What should I do if I think I have an STI?
If you think you might have an STI and/or showing symptoms like discharge, blisters or difficulty urinating, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly. Many STIs are easily treatable, and early detection and treatment can prevent complications.

8. Is it possible to get an STI from a sex toy?
Yes, sharing sex toys without proper cleaning or using them without protection can transmit STIs. It’s crucial to clean toys thoroughly and use condoms when sharing.

9. How can I talk to my partner about STI testing and prevention?
Open communication is vital, especially for new relationships. Discussing STI testing, prevention methods, and sexual health with your partner fosters a healthy and informed approach to building trust and maintaining well-being.

10. Is it safe to engage in sexual activities if both partners are HIV-positive?
While it’s possible for two HIV-positive individuals to have a sexual relationship, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks of co-infection with other STIs. This is especially important if one or both partners are not on ARV treatment. Consult with healthcare professionals for guidance.

11. Can I get STIs from kissing or intimate skin-to-skin contact?
While the risk is generally lower for some STIs, it’s still possible to transmit infections like herpes or syphilis through kissing or close skin contact. Being aware of potential risks is important.

12. What should I know about HPV and its connection to anal cancer?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STI and can lead to anal cancer. It’s important to note that while there is no cure for HPV, most infections are temporary, and the body’s immune system can clear the virus over time. In many cases, individuals may not even be aware that they have been infected. If someone has genital warts caused by HPV, healthcare providers can offer treatments to remove the warts. Common treatments include topical medications, cryotherapy (freezing the warts), or minor surgical procedures.

13. Are there STI risks associated with group sex or sex parties?
Engaging in group sex or attending sex parties is considered high risk for HIV and other STIs. Condoms remain your best defence against HIV and other STIs. PrEP is very effective to prevent HIV if you are HIV negative but won’t protect against other STIs. If you are HIV positive but undetectable, your chances of passing HIV onto others is 0%, but ARV treatment won’t protect from getting or passing on other STIs.

14. What’s the connection between drug use and STI risk?
Substance use can impact decision-making and risk-taking behaviours. Understanding the link between drug use and STIs is important for making informed choices and seeking support if needed.

15. Can I use dating apps responsibly and still protect myself from STIs?
Dating apps are common platforms for meeting partners, but it’s important to practice safer sex, disclose STI status, and communicate openly with potential partners to reduce the risk of transmission. Remember you can’t go on what someone tells you, as most HIV infections happen because people thought they were negative and had no symptoms. You are responsible for your own sexual health.

16. What are the potential complications of untreated STIs, and how can I prevent them?
Understanding the long-term consequences of untreated STIs, such as infertility or chronic health issues, emphasises the importance of early detection, treatment, and prevention.

17. Can I get an STI from using a public toilet or places like gym communal facilities?
While the risk is generally low, some STIs can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or contaminated surfaces. Practicing good hygiene, like using barriers when necessary, can help reduce the risk.

18. Can I get STIs from sharing personal items like towels or razors?
While the risk is generally low, sharing personal items that may come into contact with bodily fluids can pose a risk of transmitting certain STIs. It’s advisable to use personal items exclusively.

19. What’s the risk of contracting STIs through oral-anal contact (rimming)?
Oral-anal contact carries a risk of transmitting STIs, including bacterial infections like gonorrhoea or parasites. Using dental dams or barriers during rimming can help reduce the risk.

20. Is it safe to engage in sexual activities during my partner’s HIV “undetectable” status?
The risk of HIV transmission is zero when a person has an undetectable viral load but others STIs can still be transmitted. It’s essential to communicate openly, use protection for other STIs, and consider the overall sexual health context.

21. What’s the risk of STI transmission through fingering?
Fingering can transmit STIs, especially if there are cuts or abrasions. Cleaning hands thoroughly, using condoms over your finger or gloves, are recommended precautions.

22. Can I transmit or contract STIs through mutual masturbation?
While the risk is generally very low for HIV, certain STIs can be transmitted through genital fluids. Using barriers or practicing safe hygiene measures can help minimise the risk.

23. What’s the connection between rectal (anal) STIs and HIV transmission?
Rectal STIs, such as syphilis or gonorrhoea, can increase the risk of HIV transmission. Regular testing and early treatment for rectal STIs are crucial for overall sexual health.

24. How can I support a partner who has been diagnosed with an STI?
Offering emotional support, practicing safe sex, and accompanying your partner to healthcare appointments can contribute to their well-being and the overall management of STIs in the relationship.

EMH provides screening and testing for STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, in addition to HIV.
*Subject to eligibility criteria