It’s Pride! And although this years celebrations have been shadowed by COVID, quietly bubbling away in the background, our LGBTQ community continues to shine on through.
Throughout June, as part of Pride Month, we have shared snippets of information on sexual health, looking out for signs and symptoms and preventative measures to keep you and your partners safe.
An estimated 1.4 million people over the age of 16 now identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Of course, London is rated as a place of safety and acceptance, with 3.8% of residents identifying as LGB.
With a rise in young people now identifying as LGB, it is essential to continue to educate and push the message of safe sex and discuss the risk, especially to young gay men.
This article will cover all aspects of LGBTQ+ sexual health, including signs, symptoms and treatments.
LGBTQ Sexual health
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk from STIs if they have unprotected sex. The trusty condom will help protect against HIV and lower your risk of contracting other STIs and although this advice is ingrained in us all, there are still so many occasions where we slip up and end up at the doctor’s.
Education is key. If we have the correct information, we can make informed decisions and lower the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
Infections, diseases and protection.
It is important to note: As some STIs do not cause any symptoms, gay or bisexual men should have check-ups at least once every six months.
What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver which is spread by poo. Although it is common among gay and bisexual men, the infection can also spread through contaminated food or inadequate handwashing.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A
Symptoms of hepatitis include nausea and tiredness. Symptoms can also appear up to 8 weeks after contracting Hepatitis A.
Is Hepatitis A life-threatening?
No, Hepatitis A is not life-threatening, and most people will make a full recovery within a few months.
How to prevent contraction on Hepatitis A
- Use a condom.
- Practice good personal hygiene. Washing hands often and showering after sex.
- DIscourage oral sex after anal sex or change the condom between anal and oral.
- Don’t share sex toys.
You can also get the Hepatitis A vaccine which is effective in around 95% of cases and has been known to last for up to 10 years.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes the liver to be inflamed. Unlike Hepatitis A, Hep B is passed through contact with an infected person’s blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. Again, Hep B can pass with minimal symptoms, and recovery will take a few months; however, in some cases, the infection can cause liver disease, including liver cancer.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
Symptoms of Hepatitis B include tiredness and feeling sick; some liken symptoms to the flu, with aches and pains and a fever. Chronic Hepatitis B symptoms include loss of appetite and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Is Hepatitis B life-threatening?
No, for many people, Hepatitis B is not life-threatening and considered a short term illness; however, chronic Hepatitis B can lead to life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer. This is usually seen in those who have had hepatitis B from a very young age.
How to prevent contraction on Hepatitis B
- Use condoms.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water if you have been in contact with blood.
- Avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrushes or any other sharps which may transfer the virus.
- Clean up blood spills, preferably with diluted bleach.
- Avoid street drugs, including poppers.
You can also get the Hepatitis B vaccine that has a 98%-100% protection rate and has been known to last for up to 30 years.
What is Hepatitis C?
Again, Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver, which can lead to liver disease. This virus is also transmitted through blood to blood contact.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Symptoms of Hepatitis C include tiredness and feeling sick; some liken symptoms to the flu, with aches and pains and a fever.
Is Hepatitis C life-threatening?
If left untreated, Hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver, leading to liver failure and cancer of the liver.
How to prevent contraction of Hepatitis C
Avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrushes or any other sharps which may transfer the virus.
What is Gonorrhoea?
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is often referred to as the clap and can affect both men and women.
Symptoms of Gonorrhoea?
Symptoms of gonorrhoea include a greater frequency of urination or the need to urinate and a discoloured discharge, in men, pain in the testicles or redness and pain at the opening of the penis. Women may experience heavy periods and bleeding between periods.
As you can get oral Gonorrhea, you may experience a sore and inflamed throat.
Is Gonorrhoea life-threatening?
No, but if left untreated, Gonorrhoea leads to ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Women can also pass Gonorrhea on to newborn babies.
How to prevent contraction of Gonorrhoea?
- Use condoms.
- Avoid sharing sex toys.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that affects the urethra and or rectum. Like Gonorrhoea, it is passed on during sex. Chlamydia is one of the most STI’s in the UK.
Symptoms of Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is known to show no symptoms, and many people continue unaware of having the infection, which is why it is one of the most common STIs in the UK.
However, the few that do experience symptoms may experience pain when urinating and discoloured discharge. In men, symptoms can include swelling of the testicles and pain in that area. In women, symptoms can include bleeding between periods and after sex.
Is Chlamydia life-threatening?
No, but again, if left untreated, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and tubal pregnancies.
How to prevent the contraction of chlamydia?
- Use condoms.
- Avoid sharing sex toys.
What is HIV?
Human immunodeficiency virus, AKA, HIV is a virus that damages the cells in your immune system. As a result, it weakens your ability to fight off serious illnesses, and when your body succumbs to one or some of those illnesses, you go from having HIV to having AIDS. The progression from HIV to AIDS can also result from the CD4 cells falling below 200 cells per cubic millimetre of blood.
Symptoms of HIV
The most common symptom of HIV is a fever which may be accompanied by a sore throat, fatigue and swelling in the lymph glands. In general, HIV symptoms can be likened to the flu but with the distinction of a rash. This usually would happen 2-6 weeks after getting infected and can last 1-3 weeks.
Is HIV life-threatening?
Seeking treatment is key to continuing life as normal as possible. Without treatment, your body will deteriorate faster than usual, and you can succumb to AIDS, which is chronic and potentially life-threatening.
How to prevent HIV?
It is vital to take prevention seriously as there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. To prevent HIV, you must –
- Get vaccinated
- Use condoms
- Limit your number of sexual encounters
- Be monogamous
- Get tested – For gay and bisexual men, testing should happen once every six months at least.
- Don’t share needles
- Don’t inject drugs
It is essential to also talk to your GP about PrEP. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is preventive medicine and is highly recommended for those who are in the high-risk categories, such as gay and bisexual men.
What is AIDS?
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AKA AIDS, is the term we use to describe several potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses resulting from an attack on your immune system by the HIV virus.
Symptoms of AIDS
AIDS is a word used to describe the state of one’s body/health after HIV has weakened the body to a point it succumbs to illness. Someone who has digressed to AIDS would have symptoms which include –
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
- Extreme tiredness
- Sores in the mouth, anus or genitals
Many other symptoms may occur and can be unique to each individual.
How to prevent AIDS?
Once you have HIV, you can only prevent the deterioration to AIDS with medical treatment.
To prevent AIDS altogether, you must prevent HIV.
This month and over July, we are delighted to be offering 25% off all sexual health screening appointments.
- HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis
- Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea and mycoplasma (urine and rectal)
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea (throat)
- Rectal HPV
Female2Female screen (F2F)
- HIV / Herpes /syphilis
- Vaginal Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea/Mycoplasma/Ureaplasma
Simply quote Pride if booking directly with one of our receptionist OR if booking online, choose the 25% off pride offer when selecting your appointment type!