Understand important health issues for gay men and men who have sex with men — from sexually transmitted infections to depression — and get tips for taking charge of your health. All men face certain health risks.
However, gay men and men who have sex with men have some specific health concerns. Although your individual risks are shaped by many factors beyond your sexual orientation and practices — including family history and age — it's important to understand common health issues for gay men and steps you can take to stay healthy.
Men who have sex with men are at increased risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
Use of the combination drug emtricitabine-tenofovir Truvada can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection in those who are at high risk. Truvada is also used as an HIV treatment along with other medications. Your doctor should also test for hepatitis B infection.
If you have hepatitis B, your doctor should test your kidney function before prescribing Truvada. The drug must also be taken daily exactly as prescribed.
And it should only be used along with other prevention strategies such as condom use every time you have sex. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, confide in a trusted friend or loved one.
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Sharing your feelings might be the first step toward getting treatment. Gay men are more likely to experience body image problems and eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, than are their straight counterparts.
One potential explanation is that, as a result of growing up with images of slender and effeminate gay men or men with muscular bodies, some gay and bisexual men worry excessively about their weight. If you're struggling with body image concerns or an eating disorder, get help.
Talk to your doctor or a mental health provider about treatment options. If you have a substance abuse concern, remember that help is available.
Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, mental health, or community centers often provide substance abuse treatment. Organizations such as the GLMA also might provide referrals. Domestic violence can affect anyone in an intimate relationship.
Gay men might be more likely to stay silent about this kind of violence due to fear of discrimination and a lack of facilities designed to accommodate them. Staying in an abusive relationship might leave you depressed, anxious or hopeless.
If you don't want to disclose your sexual orientation, you might be less likely to seek help after an assault.
Still, the only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action — the sooner the better. If you're a target of domestic violence, tell someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, loved one, health care provider or other close contact. Consider calling a domestic violence hotline and creating a plan to leave your abuser. Don't let fear of homophobia or the stigma associated with homosexuality prevent you from seeking routine health care.
Instead, take charge of your health. Look for a doctor who puts you at ease. Identify yourself as gay or bisexual, and ask about routine screenings recommended for men in your age group — such as blood pressure and cholesterol measurements and screenings for prostate, testicular and colon cancers.