How did you give your friend chlamydia without touching them?
Gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are more closely connected than you might think.
Your recent chlamydia diagnosis and your best friend’s a few months later may seem unrelated because you’re the type of buddies who never have sex, but that isn’t always the case.
Our close sexual networks mean that the chlamydia infection went on a sexy trip through your shared sexual networks to eventuate into the discharge they told you about over Sunday brunch.
One reason for this is that there are fewer of us compared to other groups, so our sexual networks are smaller, which helps STIs spread very quickly in our communities.
In 2022, MSM were the group predominantly affected by syphilis (45.7% of cases) in Aotearoa. Syphilis rates were 60 times higher for MSM compared to straight men and we were also 39 times more likely to be diagnosed with gonorrhoea.
This risk also applies to people who are playing and having fun in MSM sexual networks even though they might not be one themselves.
You’re also more likely to acquire an STI when having anal sex than other types of sex, which puts us at more risk when we’re having fun without condoms or not using lube. This is because the cells in the ass are more sensitive and susceptible to tearing and infections compared to, for example, the cells in the vagina.
This doesn’t mean we should all stop fucking each other or sucking our way through an entire friend group just for fun. Because of the above reasons, it’s important that we’re a lot more vigilant and take steps to keep ourselves safe while trying out every dish in the community potluck.
Wearing condoms and using lube is the best way to protect yourself from HIV and STIs. If you’re on PrEP or have an undetectable viral load (U=U) and not using condoms every time, then make sure you are testing regularly so you can treat STIs when they do pop up and let your hookups know so they can get tested too.
If we all do our part, then we can stop the transmission of STIs a bit earlier, so they don’t have the chance to travel from you to your bestie.