The use of condoms amongst gay men is on the decline, and for many reasons. There is the increase use of PrEP, condom fatigue, and the use of drugs and alcohol resulting in condoms not being used at all, used incorrectly, or accidentally broken. After a casual hook-up, a weekend of debauchery, or perhaps a situation didn’t play out as you had planned, and for whatever reason a condom wasn’t used, it’s important to get tested. Getting tested includes more than just for HIV. It’s important to get tested for all sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Not only does getting tested help you know your own health status, but also can be useful for informing past and future partners of your HIV and STI status.
With the introduction of treatment as prevention (TaSP), pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and other advancements in the fight against HIV/AIDS, getting tested is still extremely important, even during a time when new infection rates in some jurisdictions are on the decline, and less people are dying from AIDS.
Getting tested is important. It will inform you of your sexual health status, so if you do have an STI or HIV, you can begin treatment immediately, and you can inform your past partners. It also helps inform your future partners of your sexual health status.
While you may believe that getting tested once or twice a year is acceptable; however, it is recommended to get tested every three months. Current CDC guidelines call for quarterly testing for people who are on TaSP and PrEP, to monitor health and drug levels.
Getting tested is easy. Most big cities off a number of options for getting tested for HIV and STI’s. There are free testing facilities, clinics, and hospitals. In rural areas, consult a doctor or schedule a trip to a larger center for regular screening.
Not all STI’s, like chlamydia or gonorrhea, always have immediate or obvious side effects; however, it is still possible to transmit if you do have an unknown infection.
Go get tested. Use a safer sex toolkit. The more you know about how your body is doing and your sexual health status, the better chance you have at increasing your own longevity. It will also help reduce your own anxiety of the unknown.