Men’s Sexual Health (Guys into Guys)

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Are you a guy into other guys? Looking to learn more so you can feel confident in your choices around sex? You've come to the right place. We've got you covered - and we're talking about a whole lot more than just condoms. 

 Syphilis

What is Syphilis?

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is on the rise among guys who have sex with guys in the North Bay-Parry Sound districts.  Many of the reasons for higher HIV and sexually transmitted blood-borne infections (STBBIs) rates among gay men and other guys who have sex with guys have been linked to social discrimination, stigma and violence.

How Do I Know If I Have Syphilis?

Syphilis is transmitted to adults through sexual contact or contact with a contagious lesion; or transmitted to an infant through pregnancy or delivery. Some people develop visible symptoms, such as a rash, and others don’t.

 Get tested for syphilis at least every three months if you:

  • Hook up with guys you meet on apps, websites or in bathhouses;
  • Are into Party’n’play;
  • Have condomless oral and anal sex; and/or
  • Have a painless sore near your anus, penis, or vagina/front hole.

Syphilis Testing and Treatment

A blood test is used to test for syphilis four to six weeks after having sex or close physical contact with a partner.

If you have a positive test result:

  • You will be connected to a public health nurse who will provide you with resources, counselling, support, and information.
  • You will be provided with antibiotics to treat your infection.

Be honest and upfront with your partner(s) and advise them to get tested and treated before you have any sexual activity.

After Treatment:

  • Once you have been treated for syphilis, you will need to go for blood tests to make sure the medication worked.
  • Though you may be treated and cured, some of the blood tests for syphilis may remain positive for life.
If you are seeing a new health care provider, let them know if you’ve had treatment for syphilis.

 HIV

What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that affects your immune system. It is possible to get HIV from anal, vaginal or oral sex, or through sharing sex toys. HIV can lead to serious health consequences when left untreated, including the development of AIDS. People living with HIV can live a long and healthy life. 

What Do People Mean By “Undetectable”?

The term "undetectable" means someone is living with HIV, but has a viral load so small that it can't be detected through testing. The consistent and correct use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) by people living with HIV to maintain an undetectable viral load is highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. When this strategy is used consistently and correctly, the risk for HIV transmission is very small.  

Local Services:

Free rapid and/or anonymous testing is available at the Health Unit’s Sexual Health Clinic by booking an appointment: 1-800-563-2808 ext.5289

If you are living with HIV and are looking for support, please visit www.hiv411.ca 

Get free condoms from:

  • AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area (147 McIntyre Street West Suite 102, North Bay)
  • Health Unit’s Parry Sound Office (70 Joseph Street, Unit #302 in the Parry Sound Mall)
  • Health Unit’s North Bay office (345 Oak Street West)

More information

 Condoms, PrEP and Barebacking

PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis):

  • A pill taken daily to help prevent getting HIV.
  • Does not prevent other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) like syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • It is recommended to use a condom even when you are on PrEP.
  • PrEP can be accessed at the Health Unit’s Sexual Health Clinic by booking an appointment: 1-800-563-2808 ext.5289.
  • VIDEO: PrEP & the Sex You Want

Condoms:

  • An easy way to prevent the spread of HIV and STBBIs while still having pleasurable sex.
  • Get free condoms from:
    • AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area (147 McIntyre Street West Suite 102, North Bay).
    • Health Unit’s North Bay office (345 Oak Street West)
    • Health Unit’s Parry Sound Office (70 Joseph Street, Unit #302 in the Parry Sound Mall)

Check out the ChemSex and Party n’ Play section below for tips on smart condom use.

Barebacking:

Some people will choose to have condomless sex (sometimes called barebacking). Not wearing a condom during anal or vaginal/front hole sex is a high-risk factor for STBBIs. If you choose to have sex without a condom and do not take PrEP, it is very important to get tested regularly, know your status, and know your partner(s)'s status(es). 

ChemSex and Party'n'play

"Chemsex" and "Party'n'play (PnP)" refer to taking drugs while having sex. People may have ChemSex for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reason, it's important to know more about ChemSex so you can make an informed decision about your health.

Risks of ChemSex or PnP:

  • Overdosing on drugs or a combination of drugs or alcohol
  • Becoming unconscious or disoriented, which can lead to sexual assault
  • Having a drug interaction with other prescription medication
  • Increased risk of HIV, Hepatitis, or other sexually transmitted blood-borne infections (STBBIs) when using injection drugs, or through barebacking with partners of unknown HIV status
  • Addiction issues, which might lead to loss of friends, family, partner(s), employment and/or housing
  • Severe mental health issues including depression, anxiety, weight loss, paranoia and psychosis

Strategies For Men Who PnP That May Help Reduce HIV, Hepatitis C and STBBI Transmission:

1) Testing

  • Regular HIV, Hepatitis C and STBBI testing is recommended, especially for men having sex with multiple partners.

 2) Condoms

  • If men are using condoms during long sex sessions with one partner, the condoms should be replaced regularly, and lube should be applied often to reduce the chance of the condom ripping.
  • A new condom should be used with each new partner.

3) Lube

  • If condoms are not used, plenty of lube should be applied throughout sex to help reduce irritation of the rectal lining and penis.
  • Plenty of lube should also be regularly applied when fisting. A new glove should be used for each fisting partner. 

4) Medication

  • HIV-negative gbMSM who PnP may be good candidates for PrEP.
  • HIV-negative gbMSM who PnP may be good candidates for post-exposure prophylaxis (nPEP) after a potential exposure to HIV.
  • For men who inject drugs, it is important to always use new needles and other injecting equipment.

8 Ways To Help Reduce Your Risk Of An Overdose:

  • Never take drugs alone.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of an overdose
  • Go Slow. There isn't a good way to test out your batch at home. Anything can be cut with fentanyl, so use a small dose at a time and pace yourself.
  • Don't mix drugs or alcohol.
  • Have a Naloxone kit available. Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose
  • Don't be afraid to call 911. An overdose is a medical emergency.
  • Party with consent.
  • Know you can refuse drugs or sex if you want to.

Get tips from gay guys on using drugs more safely.

 Getting Tested

Whether you want to top, bottom, or have other forms of sex, and whether your partner is poz or neg, knowing your HIV status and whether you have a sexually transmitted blood-borne infection (STBBI) will help you make informed decisions about your sexual health, and make you more confident in bed (or wherever you like to do it).

The Health Unit’s Sexual Health Clinic offers a wide range of programs and services for gay, bi, transmen and other people who have sex with men in the North Bay Parry Sound area, including:

  • Screening and treatments for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • HIV testing (rapid and/or anonymous)
  • PrEP
  • Referrals for Hepatitis A & B vaccination
  • Gardasil vaccine (for those who qualify)
  • Pregnancy testing and birth control
  • Free condoms

See Clinic Locations & Hours

 Mental Health, Stigma and Social Connectedness

Being your authentic self might be hard. We all have a role to play in reducing stigma, building community, and helping others to get help when they need it.

If you are struggling with your mental health, there are services available to help. Find local mental health services today and learn more about talking about your own mental health.

 Local Resources

Local Resources & Groups that Support Guys into Guys:

Learn how to look out for yourself and for each other while having the sex you want!

Content adapted from Ottawa Public Health and Gay Zone

North Bay

345 Oak Street West
705-474-1400

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302
705-746-5801

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)
1-800-563-2808