3 Tips For Healthy Sexual Citizens
Today I wanted to share some thoughts with many exciting events coming up. I am excited to be travelling to the USA for events and it got me thinking… What makes for a healthy sexual citizen?
For me there were three important concepts that I wanted to share:
1) Know Your Status
When I talk about knowing your status I want to ensure people understand I am not just talking about HIV. HIV is important however it’s not the only STI people should consider getting tested for.
For all my patients I recommend:
- All people should have an annual sexual health screening
- If you have had more than 10 sexual partners in less than 6 months then every half year
- If you have had lots of partners or if you are currently taking PrEP for HIV prevention then it’s worth getting tested every 3 months.
What is included in a full sexual health screening?
- Throat swab, bum swab, urine to be tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea
- Blood tests for HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis C as well as checking immunity for Hepatitis A & B
- If you are living with HIV talk with your doctor about how often you should consider HIV viral load testing as well as CD-4 count.
I recommend if you are going to an event, book yourself in around a month before to ensure you have plenty of time to get treatment should any of the results come back positive.
2) Know Your Options
When it comes to HIV prevention it’s not just condoms any more. There are many options available to reduce the risk of not just HIV but also other STI’s.
If you are at potential risk of HIV infection, have you considered PrEP? Just one tablet daily can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 99%!
For friends living with HIV we know there are great health benefits for considering treatment. Successful treatment leads to the suppression of HIV replication to the point that HIV can’t be detected in the blood: “Non Detectable Viral Load”. Undetectable viral load means that HIV can not be passed on.
To quote my amazing friend Dave Watt of Mr Friendly:
U=U. Undetectable is untransmittable, is undeniably awesome”
Beyond HIV we know that condoms do help reduce the risk of other sexual infections such as Chlamyida, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis and others however they don’t eliminate the risk – who uses condoms for oral sex these days? This is why getting a regular sexual health screening is so important.
3) Get Vaccinated
For all sexual citizens I recommend the following vaccinations:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Meningococcal A, C, Y, W or as many strains as you can!
- Annual flu shot
- Keep up to date with tetanus
- Consider the HPV vaccine to help prevent anal cancers.
I hope these simple ideas are useful and helpful for anyone who is looking to keep their sexual and wholistic health in tip top condition.
Yours in great health.
Dr George Forgan-Smith
Transcript 3 Tips For Healthy Sexual Citizens
What does that mean to me? Well, I have three ideas that I want to share with you and I’d love to get your feedback. The first is knowing your status and the way that we get to know our status, and it’s not just about HIV because everybody thinks status HIV, but there’s lots of things to know about. And the way that we find out is by getting a regular sexual health screening.
So, if you’re sexually active, you should be getting a screening every 12 months. If you’ve had more than 10 sexual partners in less than six months, then every six months or if you’re on PrEP or particularly successful, good on you, then every three months. In that way, you can be totally in control of your sexual health.
Now, a sexual health screening for all of my patients involves a throat swab, a bum swab and urine and that’s to check for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. If my patient has a vagina or a cervix, then it’s also a cervical swab. And again, that’s for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Then, a blood test to check for hepatitis C, hepatitis A and B to check to see whether they’ve been vaccinated but also for HIV and syphilis.
If you’re living with HIV, then talk with your specialist about how often you would like to be getting a CD-4 count and HIV viral load as well. But that’s an important thing about knowing your status. If you’re going to an event, it’s a great idea to get a full sexual health screening, say, two or three weeks before the event. If you do have any surprises, you can get them all sorted out before you turn up at the event.
Other things that are important is know how to protect yourself against potential sexual infections. It used to be condoms was the only way that we had available to us for protecting against HIV and reducing the risks of STIs. But things have changed and there is some amazing new technologies. We know that PrEP is a fantastic technology that can help reduce the risk of HIV infections significantly and it’s a single tablet taken every day or there are other dosing regimes that are on demand, and it’s important that you talk with your doctor if this is something of interest to you.
For people living with HIV, we know that successful treatment leads to a non-detectable viral load, and undetectable viral load is undeniably awesome and nontransmissible. People living with HIV on treatment that led to a non-detectable viral load, there’s no way that you’re going to ever be able to pass on HIV, but also there are massive health advantages for your own health as well. I always want to talk to my patients about stuff like that.
Condoms are still an important role. They do actually help reduce the risks of STI transmission. However, I don’t know many people who use condoms for oral sex or wanking or anything like that. That’s why it’s important to get a regular sexual health screening.
Now, part three, the final part is to consider getting vaccinations. All men who have sex with men should consider the following vaccinations, and I recommend hepatitis A and hepatitis B because both of these can transmitted through sexual means. Get an up-to-date tetanus shot. Get a flu shot every year particularly if you’re coming together with large groups of people. Flu shot is a massive, massive advantage to everybody there.
Now, there has also been meningococcal outbreaks internationally. There’s one here in Melbourne at the moment, but there’s been meningococcal outbreaks after IML (International Mr Leather) a few years back so it is important to consider getting the meningococcal vaccine. I recommend the ACWY strains get covered or as many strains as you can, and these are all important things. Not quite sexual health but HPV vaccine as well. Consider getting the human papilloma vaccine. It reduces the chances of anal cancers in men who have sex with men significantly.
Yeah, that’s my ideas about sexual citizenship, three ideas. So, know your status, understand how to protect yourself. And finally, understand that there are vaccines available and which ones you should avail yourselves to. I hope this was helpful and I would love to get your thoughts and impressions on anything that you would like to add. Have a great day. See you guys.