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Gay Men's Perceptions of Sexually Transmissible Infections and Their Experiences of Diagnosis: "Part of the Way of Life" to Feeling "Dirty and Ashamed"

January 13, 2011

The authors introduced the current study by noting that while gay men are more likely than their heterosexual peers to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection, little research has focused on gay men's perceptions of STIs other than HIV. Using information from interviews conducted with gay men in Sydney, the team analyzed participants' perceptions of STIs and their experiences of testing and diagnosis.


More than half the men reported having ever been diagnosed with an STI. The infections "were generally regarded as inconvenient consequences of sexual activity." Compared to curable bacterial STIs, recurring viral STIs were perceived as more serious. All STIs were thought of as "considerably less important than HIV." To manage STI risk, the most commonly employed strategies were condom use and regular testing.

"Despite the relative lack of concern attributed to STIs, being diagnosed with an STI could generate feelings of shame, embarrassment, and annoyance," the team wrote. Among some respondents, educational campaigns to destigmatize STIs and promote regular testing appeared to have been effective.

"We believe that to maintain high rates of STI testing among gay men, community education efforts should continue to reduce the stigma associated with STIs, and greater support should be offered to gay men when they receive an STI diagnosis," the authors concluded.

Back to other news for January 2011

Adapted from:
Sexual Health
11.2010; Vol. 7; No. 4: P. 411-416; Martin Holt, Diana Bernard, Kane Race

More From This Resource Center

Undetectable Viral Load and HIV Prevention: What Do Gay and Bi Men Need to Know?

Do HIV-Negative Gay Men Need Condoms if They're on PrEP? Here's What I Tell My Patients

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: devon b (philadelphia) Tue., Aug. 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm UTC
I was just told that i had hiv and when it first was told to me all i could do was cry. As a 19 year old gay male to know that u have hiv that just scary al that i could do was cry. The day that i was told i was scared i find out when i goy a letter from the red cross telling me that i was never able to give blood i was scared that i that it but paid it How mind intil the doctor told me that had to come down to the office she that to tell me somehing and if i did not come she would have to mail the paper to my house i said How its time go and find out whats wrong and that was what it was hiv that hit me all i could do was cry and pray that god would help me and give me that faith to live ust one more b
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