Resources for Heterosexual Men
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 STD, 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 – 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 herpes and HPV cases available, it’s 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 inSPOTLA.org.
Remember, most STDs often have no symptoms – 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 – 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 don’t want to talk to your partner directly, you can send her an e-card (anonymously if you wish) at inSPOTLA.org.
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, it’s 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 you’re 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 – 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. There’s 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, don’t just wait for them to go away – go get them checked out! But often, STDs don’t 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 section or inSPOTLA.org.
Talk to your partner. Not talking about STDs doesn’t make them go away. It’s your body. Talk to your partner. Tell her your expectations about sex and STD protection, and ask about hers. It’s also important to remember that STDs often have no symptoms – so your partner might think she’s “clean” but still be able to give you an STD. And you might also think you’re STD-free, but still have an infection you could give to your partner. That’s why some people both get STD and HIV tests tested when they start having sex. It’s 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 don’t keep passing the STD back and forth to each other.
Know about partner therapy. If you have chlamydia or gonorrhea, it’s always good for your partner to go get checked. But it’s 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 you’re positive and have an STD, it’s 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 LA 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.
Links and Resources
General STD Information
- American Social Health Association: General STD information and resources, with an emphasis on herpes and HPV), also has lots of condom information .
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: General STD information.
- Los Angeles County STD Hotline: 1-800-758-0880 (toll free):
Offers STD information and eferrals to free and low-cost testing in LA County
Free condoms by mail (LA County residents only).
Note: The STD Hotline is available 24 hours/day, 7 days a week via an automated system for clinics and to leave a message for condoms. If you want to speak to a health educator, please call Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.
- California AIDS Hotline: 800-367-AIDS. Mon – Fri, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 9 p.m. Tuesdays). TDD: 888-225-AIDS.
- CDC INFO: 800-232-4636. STD and HIV information (listen to prompts) - 24 hrs.
- AIDS/HIV Nightline: 800-273-AIDS (2437). Mon - Sun / 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Provides emotional support, information and referrals to people with concerns about HIV during the night when other agencies are closed.
- Drug Treatment and recovery resources in L.A. County: contact 1-800-564-6600 to be referred to resources near you.
STD Testing Resources
- InSPOTLA: Tell your sex partners about an STD or HIV through internet ecards (anonymously if desired): Also has STD testing locator and additional resource links.
- Hepatitis B Foundation: Provides educational information about hepatitis B transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, management, new treatments, and clinical trials.
- Hepatitis Foundation International: Provides educational information about hepatitis including transmission, symptoms, vaccination, treatment, and management of chronic infections.
- Free and low cost hepatitis A and B vaccination in LA County
- CDC fact sheet on the HIV-STD connection.
- HIV L.A. Resource Directory: HIVLA.org is a quick, easy way to locate services available in Los Angeles County for people with HIV/AIDS. HIV L.A. is organized by category of service and by geographic region and contains over 1,300 listings.
For information on free and low cost STD testing and treatment services in Los Angeles County, call the STD Hotline at 1-800-758-0880 or visit our STD Testing & Services section.