Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Dear Dr. B: What are the risks of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) for homosexual women and men?

If a person has sex with someone who has sexually transmitted infection then the risk of contracting the disease is extremely high. It does not matter whether a person is heterosexual or homosexual.

The infection is caused by bacteria or viruses.

Bacterial infections cause Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Viral infections cause hepatitis B, genital herpes, AIDS (human deficiency virus – HIV) and genital warts (human papillomavirus – HPV).

You are at risk of having STD if:

-you ever had sex
-you had many sex partners
-you had sex with someone who has had many sex partners
-you had sex without using condom

Long term consequences of STD can be serious and sometime life threatening. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and infection of testicular area in men. This may render a person sterile. Viral warts can cause cancer of the cervix or penis. Syphilis can cause infection of the nervous system, mental problems, blindness and death.

Dangers of hepatitis, genital herpes and AIDS are well known.

In most cases, STD can be diagnosed by your doctor with a history and physical examination, culture of the secretions from vagina or penis, a blood test or a urine test.

One can lower the risk of STD by having sex with someone
-who is not having sex with anyone else – a monogamous relationship
-who does not have STD
-by always using condom – no unprotected sex until your relationship has been established.

You may be interested to know that condoms have been around since 1640s. According to a report in the Medical Post (January 2nd, 2004), the world’s oldest condoms are part of a museum exhibition that will tour a number of European cities in 2004.

The exhibition titled “100,000 years of Sex”, was mounted by the curator of the Drents Museum in northern Holland who found the old condoms at a castle in England. They are made from fish bladders and have been dated back to the 1640s. The exhibition features European sexual artifacts up to 1900 and has been drawing record crowds – mostly women between 55 and 65, says the Medical Post report.

Can we treat STD?

Infection caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. Infection caused by viruses are difficult to treat but some of the symptoms can be taken care of.

One of the risks of sexual contact is exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Casual sex without a condom carries the most risk for STD because you may not know if your partner is infected. Practicing safe sex is the best way to stay out of trouble. Same rules apply to men and women, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual.

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