As a gay man, my sexual health knowledge is quite strong thanks to years of media saturation and stigma. But I find this is not the case for many straight people. Sure, heterosexuals wear condoms too, but protecting yourself from unwanted pregnancies is a little different than protecting yourself from STIs.
As every mother has said to their gay son: I don’t want you catching anything bad, darling. And so, I feel it’s my duty to bring the most important sexual health facts for my straight allies.
Sometimes you won't get any symptoms
Popular STIs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the most likely to share no symptoms, especially if they are caught in the throat. However, if you hold onto them long enough without getting treated, they will begin to stir up the body. In fact, nearly all STIs have the chance of being asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms). This includes HIV. So if you are regularly getting some action from a variety of fans, I recommend regularly getting tested. The usual rate is every six months, but you can up it to every three months if you’re overly deviant.
HIV + effective treatment = 0% risk of transmission
Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, most people living with HIV (PLHIV) have no risk of transmitting their infection if they are on effective treatment. This is because their level of infection is undetectable in their bodily fluids. In fact, you have less chance of contracting HIV from condomless sex with a successfully treated PLHIV, than if you randomly slept with someone who doesn’t get tested at all. Personally, I’d rather have copious amounts of sex with a PLHIV and on effective treatment than someone who refuses to get tested regularly. It’s the power of knowledge that keeps us safe. Indeed, I’d still use a condom in either scenario, but I’d feel safer sleeping with the first guy.
Interestingly, the power of an undetectable viral load (UVL) is so strong in the medical community that New Zealand has opened a sperm bank that collects sperm from PLHIV and who have a UVL.