Health Awareness for Gay Men

Last updated: October 2023

Although National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day happens once a year on September 27th, that should not stop any gay man from fully understanding all of the things that may affect their health. Although this day was created to help encourage HIV testing and prevention, as well as stop HIV stigma - that does not mean that other health related issues should be disregarded.

Health issues can be prevalent with all gay men regardless of someone's HIV status. I believe that health issues among gay men are status neutral, and there are many other health issues other than HIV/AIDS.

Awareness leads to empowerment

Overall health awareness means that you are aware of all things that can affect you.

Over 9 years ago when I was HIV-negative, I did not think that HIV/AIDS would affect me, so I disregarded any information about it. Specifically, National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day holds a stigma within community. Many individuals who I have encountered expressed that they are HIV-negative, so this awareness day does not mean anything to them.

One thing that I try to always speak on is that these types of awareness days are also to inform those who are negative, and how they can incorporate prevention within their own lives.

According to the CDC, 1 in 2 African American gay and bisexual men, and 1 in 4 Latino gay and bisexual men may be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.1

I believe that individuals who are HIV-negative should incorporate routine HIV testing at least every 3 to 6 months. My community should also feel comfortable and confident in themselves to talk about their sexual health and risk factors.

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Can't talk about testing without mentioning prevention

When we talk about HIV we should also talk about PrEP, a preventative pill you take everyday to prevent HIV. In my perspective, both treatment as prevention and PrEP, are one in the same because both help lower the rates of HIV transmission.

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing should always be incorporated when talking about HIV due to the high rates of contracting HIV while having an existing STI. STI testing, in my opinion, is always forgotten due to many of the STI's being able to be treated. I believe gay men focus much more on HIV because it cannot be cured. Both HIV and STI testing are important when it comes to the overall health and wellness of gay men.

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Whole health awareness for gay men

One thing that we cannot forget is health screenings for things like prostate, testicular, and colon cancer. These types of screenings can be incorporated routinely by your healthcare provider.

Many people also forget that mental health is a major part of someone's health and wellness. Seeking therapy or guidance for things like depression or anxiety can help improve your overall sense of self. I personally have felt uncomfortable talking about going to therapy and when I finally did it, I saw a major change in the way that I was approaching many of my close relationships.

Overall, when we speak about health awareness for gay men we are not only talking about HIV/AIDS. There are many other health related issues and risks that gay men go through. We need to continue normalizing these types of conversations.

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