There is a wealth of resources in L.A. County for men to maintain their sexual health: information, new tests, free and low-cost
clinics, easy ways to
tell your partners about an
HIV or STD diagnosis, and effective vaccines for hepatitis A and B. But, STD risk among heterosexual men in L.A. County is still high. In 2006, there were nearly 12,000 cases of
chlamydia and more than 5,500 cases of
gonorrhea overall among men in L.A. County. Chlamydia and gonorrhea rates are highest in men ages 15-29, but plenty of older men get these STDs too Ė in fact, more than half of all gonorrhea cases and more than one fourth of all chlamydia cases in men in 2006 were in men 30 or older.
While there are no exact numbers of
HPV cases available, itís estimated that as many as one million Americans are infected with herpes each year, and about one in five American men overall have herpes. New infections with HPV (human papillomavirus), the virus that causes genital warts (and certain types can also cause penile cancer), is even more common, with about 5.5 million Americans infected each year. As many as one in 7 Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 have HPV, with men and women affected about equally.
If you think you have an STD or had sex with someone with an
STD, get checked and treated quickly. And also get checked if you notice any
unusual symptoms, like burning when you pee, rashes, bumps, lumps, or pain in
the genital or groin area. You can find a clinic near you by calling the STD
Hotline at 1-800-758-0880, or visiting our clinics
section or www.inSPOTLA.org.
Remember, most STDs often have no symptoms Ė until they lead to more serious problems or complications. So if you have a new sex partner, talk with her about both of you getting checked Ė there are many free STD testing locations throughout the L.A. area.
If you find out that you have an STD, you need to let your sex partner(s) know. That way, she can get treated, and it will stop the spread of the STD back to you, or around the community (where it could come back to you later!). If you donít want to talk to your partner directly, you can send her an e-card (anonymously if you wish) at
If you have HIV
See a health provider on a regular basis, and ask about routine testing for STDs (including syphilis) every three months, or else with your periodic exam and blood work. Also, if you get an STD, itís important to get treated quickly and to get follow-up tests for syphilis after treatment to ensure you have been cured of your infection.
Tips for Heterosexual Men to Stay Sexually Healthy
Know your STDs. STDs are transmitted through direct sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and some (like syphilis or herpes) can be transmitted through the vigorous skin-to-skin rubbing that takes place during sex.
Use condoms. If youíre sexually active, using condoms every time you have sex is still your best protection against HIV and other STDs. There are more condom choices now than ever before Ė learn what you like. Use plenty of lube (water-based lube only for latex condoms), which can reduce any chance the condom will break or tear. For oral sex on you, there are flavored condoms, and for oral sex on your partner, you can use plastic wrap, or cut a condom at the tip and then lengthwise and place it over the vagina. Thereís also a Female Condom, which some women (and men) prefer because of how it feels.
Get an STD check-up if you notice symptoms, if your
partner has an STD, or if you change partners. Know your body. If you notice
unusual rashes, bumps, lumps, discharges, sores, or pain, donít just wait for
them to go away Ė go get them checked out! But often, STDs donít cause any
symptoms at first. They can still cause serious health problems later, like not
being able to have children, problems with your prostate or other organs, and
even cancer. There are dozens of clinics in the L.A. area where you can get free
or low-cost STD testing. Again, you can find a clinic near you by calling the
STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880, or visiting our clinics
Talk to your partner. Not talking about STDs doesnít make them go away. Itís your body. Talk to your partner. Tell her your expectations about sex and STD protection, and ask about hers. Itís also important to remember that STDs often have no symptoms Ė so your partner might think sheís ďcleanĒ but still be able to give you an STD. And you might also think youíre STD-free, but still have an infection you could give to your partner. Thatís why some people both get STD and HIV tests tested when they start having sex. Itís also why, if you or your partner find out either of you have an STD, the main thing is to both get treated, so you donít keep passing the STD back and forth to each other.
Know about partner therapy. If you have chlamydia or gonorrhea, itís always good for your partner to go get checked. But itís also possible to get medication from your doctor to give to your partner right away. Ask your doctor.
Know the HIV-STD connection. If you're HIV-negative and have an STD like syphilis or gonorrhea, you are two to five times more likely to become HIV infected if you have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner. If youíre positive and have an STD, itís easier for you to transmit HIV to a negative partner.
If you or your partner have herpes, learn about
suppressive therapy. Daily medication can reduce the number herpes
outbreaks. It can also reduce the amount of herpes virus that is shed through
the skin between outbreaks, which may in turn reduce the chance of transmitting
herpes to sex partners. Visit
ASHASTD for more information, or talk to your doctor to see if this therapy is right for your situation.
Know about hepatitis A and B vaccination. Hepatitis A
and B are serious diseases that can cause illness for weeks or months. Hepatitis
B can also cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver
cancer, liver failure, and death. Free vaccine is available --
click here for resources in L.A. County or call the
STD hotline 1-800-758-0880.
Using drugs and alcohol increases your STD and HIV risk. Alcohol and drugs increase your risk for STDs when they increase the number of partners you have or reduce your use of condoms. If you use alcohol or drugs, having condoms available and ready increases your chances of using them while under the influence. If your drug or alcohol use is out of control, find local treatment and recovery resources by calling 1-800-564-6600.