"HARNESS" column for Beefyboyz.com - January 2004
Can you have a sexually transmitted infection without any symptoms?
"My partner wants me to go to a clinic for a sexual health check up, but I don't have any symptoms and don't want to go. Is it possible to have a sexually transmitted infection and not have any symptoms?"
The simple answer to your question is YES, it is possible to have a sexually transmitted infection and not realise for months or even years. Unfortunately you will still be able to infect other people in the meantime, and when the disease finally develops noticeable symptoms it will be far harder to treat. Health experts recommend that everyone who's sexually active has a check-up every 3 to 6 months, depending on how active you are.
If you've never been to a sexual health clinic before, don't worry. In my experience the staff are friendly, non-judgemental and have seen everything before. In the UK (and, I suspect much of Europe) sexual health clinics are free to use, confidential and you can even give a false name if you want. Chatting to friends in the USA it seems that sexual health provision varies from city to city, so if you're not sure where to go ask your nearest lesbian and gay centre if you have one, or gay bar if you don't.
The most common sexually transmitted infections are:
- Chlamydia - a bacterial infection, which you can carry for 3 months without symptoms. If left untreated it can spread from the cock to the prostate gland, balls, and other parts of the body. Treatment is by a course of antibiotics.
- Crabs - or pubic lice that live in body hair. There are reports of guys who've had crabs and not realised it, but most people will discover very quickly how much these things itch!
- Genital Herpes - a recurring virus with no cure, but anti-viral treatments can ease the pain and shorten the duration of each attack.
- Gonorrhoea - another bacterial infection, which can sometimes have no symptoms, or be very mild (e.g. a sore throat). However, if left untreated it too can spread to the prostate gland and balls, which may lead to infertility. It can also spread throughout your body causing inflammation of the joints and septicaemia, which can, in rare cases, be fatal.
- Hepatitis - is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. There are three main types: A, B, and C. A significant number of men carry Hepatitis B, which can be fatal. However, the good news is there are VACCINES for Hepatitis A and B. Health experts strongly recommend that all sexually active men are vaccinated against Hepatitis A & B. Your clinic should be able to provide you with these vaccines although they may be a small charge.
- HIV - a virus which is the precursor of AIDS. It can be diagnosed with a simple blood test and the results will be available between one hour or ten days, depending on where you go for the test.
- Syphilis - a bacterial infection in three stages. Stage 1 is a painless sore which appears 1 to 10 weeks after infection and may be easily missed. Stage 2 is a rash on your body and appears up to 2-6 months later. If left untreated stage 3 comes many years later and can cause blindness, brain damage, heart attacks, paralysis, and strokes. Syphilis is detectable by a blood test and is completely curable with antibiotics, causing no permanent damage, if treated early enough.
Now, this list was not to frighten you but to encourage a visit to your local clinic if you've been putting it off. Make it your New Year resolution if you like! My thanks to GMFA for helping me with this answer. For more information go to their website: www.gmfa.org.uk/sex/stis/index
Have fun, and look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003