STI rates have been increasing among gay men in recent years. Untreated STIs are not only bad for your health, they increase the chance of HIV transmission in some cases. So, what can you do about it?
While some STIs can be cured through treatment, others can only be managed. Either way, getting tested and treated regularly is key to your sexual health and is something that each of us can do to reduce rates of STIs in the community.
Having sex when you have an untreated STI increases the chance of HIV transmission, particularly through the area affected by the STI. For example, if you have an STI in your ass, then your body will fight that infection by sending a lot of immune cells to your ass. These are the cells HIV needs to enter in order to replicate. When there are more immune cells present, HIV has more opportunities to establish an infection. Some STIs can also cause lesions or sores that can act as a gateway for other infections.
PrEP, condoms, and undetectable viral load remain very effective tools in preventing HIV transmission even when there is an STI present, but for people who aren’t using these strategies, having an STI can make HIV transmission more likely. STIs can also just be downright uncomfortable. Getting tested and treated regularly is important. With the emergence of mpox in queer men’s sexual networks, we need to get vaccinated and keep an eye out for symptoms. Learn more about mpox here.