Are there vaccinations I should get before I explore my sexuality?
September 17, 2014 4:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm mid 30s, gay, currently working in Adelaide, South Australia (my work takes me all over the globe, so some context). I'm wanting to explore my sexuality, but I am wondering if I should visit a doctor to get some vaccinations for STDs? (I've been reading about HPV on ask.mefi)

I've also googled for pages on safe sex, but would love to know if there is a definitive guide for gay dudes. Thanks!
posted by TrinsicWS to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: ACON has some good advice. They recommend being vaccinated for Hep A (the main risk is oral transmission through rimming, I think) and talking to your doctor about HPV vaccination (unfortunately it's not on the PBS for gay men). Condoms are still the best protection against HIV but there is a trial of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) happening in Victoria at the moment. There's also a safer sex campaign from NZ, Love Your Condom, which has been celebrated in public health circles for communicating safer sex messages to gay and bi men in a particularly frank and NSFW way. Probably your best move would be to find a GP who is explicitly LGBT-friendly, be honest with them about what you're into sex-wise and take their advice on the best protective measures for you.
posted by embrangled at 4:23 AM on September 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: ACON is where it's at in terms of up to date info. It's a NSW Health initiative. MrTaff works with them on lots of projects and they (like much of Australian health promotion) are gold standard. I'd have added Hep B in addition to the wonderful embrangled's info...but I see her link to ACON has that.

Other than that the only bodily fluids that you shouldn't fearfully worry about are saliva, sweat, wee and tears*. All the others should be approached with caution and assumed to be carriers until proven (by a medical professional) otherwise. This is, of course, advice for all people having sexy times, not just gay dudes.

So lovely Trinsic, go forth and be happy and safe and enjoy the ride with all the (safe) twists and turns it takes you on. Woo hoo you!

*technically earwax is probably pretty safe too, but if you're having sexy times with ear wax.... call Dan Savage 'cause I got nuthin'.
posted by taff at 4:39 AM on September 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Hepatitis B can be sexually transmitted and there is a vaccine available. These UK recommendations state that vaccination should be considered for people who change sexual partners frequently and men who have sex with men so it seems like it would be worth considering for you.
posted by *becca* at 7:06 AM on September 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As others have said, definitely look into TRUVADA for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for adults at higher risk for sexually acquired HIV-1.
posted by hush at 7:46 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: Consider a Hep A vaccination if you think you might explore anal/oral contact.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health City Clinic site offers really forthright, clear, reasearch-based advice. It's a great resource. They don't just give the blanket, "all fluids are dangerous" thing for example, which isn't research based. Check out their discussion of oral sex.
posted by latkes at 7:53 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: You should go talk to your doctor about all the available vaccines. There are the Hep A/B and such mentioned here, but you may be due for others, like tetanus. Also, I'm not sure if there are stupid people in Australia, but there are plenty here in the US and my doctor had boosters of pertussis and some other things that were going around because of the anti-vaxers in the area. There are probably other useful vaccines to get, too, if you're traveling around the globe.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:14 AM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: Yeah, get Hep A and B. They're not only sexually transmitted, so it's nice to know you can't ever contract either.

And use condoms, be aware of the state of your mouth (no brushing/flossing 30 mins before or after), have open and frank discussions with sexual partners about risk factors and testing history.

Most importantly, have fun!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:21 PM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: There is no research to support this statement: no brushing/flossing 30 mins before or after.

While it seems like a good idea, intuitively, to think SAFE AS POSSIBLE IS BEST there are actual public health problems with advocating extreme measures that are not supported by science. As far as the research shows, oral sex is quite safe from an HIV point of view. It is low risk but still risky for the receptive partner in terms of other STIs.

I absolutely agree that open, frank conversations are one of the best safer sex intervention.
posted by latkes at 5:40 PM on September 17, 2014

Best answer: If you're new to exploring your sexuality as a gay guy, I would also recommend checking out the podcasts from Joy 94.9, an LGBTIQ radio station based out of Melbourne. I've found listening to these has helped me feel more connected with the queer community at large, which can be a challenge if you're coming out later in life and aren't a nightclubby kind of person. (It's also how I as a queer lady know the first thing about safer sex for gay dudes - yay solidarity!) Hide and Seek deals with a lot of issues around male sexuality, including regular Q&A episodes with gay doctors.

Another thing you should be aware of when you're making decisions around safer sex is that drug resistant gonorrhoea is now a thing. I met a research nurse a while back who was studying its transmission, and she made it sound pretty scary - it can have some awful systemic effects, including infections of the blood or joints. It's more prevalent overseas for now but she seemed to think it was only a matter of time before it started hitting the gay community in Australia. So you know, have fun, but play safe.
posted by embrangled at 6:24 PM on September 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can flat out pay for HPV vax in Australia (I had it pushed at me when I did the 'thinking about getting pregnant' dr appt in spite of being in a monogamous relationship using hormonal BC for years). It was a couple of hundred dollars I think. You buy the vax, dr/nurse injects. It'll protect you from some strains of HPV and penile/anal/throat cancers that can result from the infection.

And drug resistant gonorrhoea is here, according to sexual health friends. So barrier methods are still pretty key for safety.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:33 PM on September 17, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I'm going to take it step at a time, first reading up all the resources above :) Cheers!
posted by TrinsicWS at 5:09 AM on September 18, 2014

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