Everybody’s have a great, sexy Pride right? Lots of fun, lots of laughs and lots of sex? Well, we don’t mean to pull a Debbie Downer here, but we sure hope you’re looking after yourselves and your sex partners while you have all of that fun. While there has been some good news in recent years when it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STI), there is still plenty of reason to be on your best behaviour and to act responsibly.
So, grab your condoms, gloves and dental dams so that we can take a trip through the latest information being shared about the current state of STIs around the world.
There is some great news on the HIV front. New research out of Hong Kong points to a functional cure to HIV—a major breakthrough in the research of this potentially deadly infection. Currently, those with HIV can contain the virus with antiretroviral drugs to keep their virus level so low as to be undetectable. However, this new advance controls the HIV infected on a much more long term level. Instead of daily antiretroviral drugs, patients may only need to take them once every few months. Also, this new medication works on all strains of HIV—a previously unheard of breakthrough.
While this treatment won’t be available for some time, after it passes all of the required tests and protocol, it does point to an opportunity for those living living with HIV to be more independent of that part of their lives. PrEP and Truvada have already made sex more available, and this advance could be another positive sign in the right direction.
It is quite alarming that in some places, the UK in particular, instances of syphillis infection are rising at alarming rates. In just one year, the number of syphillis infections grew by 20% Apparently that is the more significant increase in one year since 1949.
Many are pointing to one distinct reason for this rapid increase: cuts to government health funding and testing. If people aren’t being made aware that there is a greater risk out there, by way of information from departments of health, then they just won’t be prepared to deal with this potential side effect of sex. And if their windows to get tested are shorter and more difficult for people to manage, then folks will unwittingly continue to spread the infection through sex.
Unfortunately, in situations like this, it is often those who are the most marginalized by society who suffer the most. People of colour, minority ethnic communities, young people and men who have sex with men are at the greatest risk when health care initiatives are scaled back.
If you out to find some casual play partners, particularly those for whom you might not know their status, gonorrhea is another concern to be worried about. For example, did you know that gonorrhea is the second most prevalent STI in the United States? In fact, there are 78 million new cases of gonorrhea around the world every year.
Fortunately, gonorrhea is easily treatable. It can usually be cleared up with a simple dose of antibiotics. Two actually. If one doesn’t clear it up, the other will. No real fuss, no real mess. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch out for it, because any infection that isn’t treated can become a problem. But as far as STIs go, gonorrhea isn’t the most problematic.
Well, that was before the Centers for Disease Control designated gonorrhea as one of the three most urgent antibiotics resistance threats. In fact, after one man’s gonorrhea was not eliminated by either antibiotic, health officials were put on greater alert. Now, many agencies are working together to try and get ahead of any coming threat. Stay turned because this is definitely a story to watch.
At this point, we still don’t have a cure for genital herpes (HSV-2). This, despite that fact that it is estimated that 1 in 6 people are carriers of genital herpes. Add on to that the possibility that 2 out of every 3 people have herpes simplex (HSV-1), which can be transmitted and manifest as genital herpes.
That is so much herpes happening—but is it really a problem?!
So how, given how many people have herpes of some sort, why is there still such a stigma related to a very common concern? Somehow, people think that those who have herpes are dirty or promiscuous. As will all STIs, these characterizations are very unfair. They brand people and those who do have herpes can find their dating and sexual options limited by stigma.
So, instead of cracking some joke or making a snide comment about someone with herpes, remember that they are a person, they have an incurable infection that barely limits them, and they could be one fantastic lover!