PREVENTION, TREATMENTS & CURES
We live in amazing times for medical research and medications. So many illnesses that killed off or incapacitated large portions of the human population, are not only treatable but non-existent. We don’t hear about anyone contracting polio or smallpox anymore. Even HIV, which has been the latest literal plague, has not only great treatments but also a preventative medication that is 99.99% effective. Just ten years ago, this was considered impossible.
But for all of our advancements in medication, they mean nothing if guys either are not aware of them, or refuse to take them. We believe in choice and free will, but it is also your individual responsibility to keep up with changes in gay male healthcare, solely because your doctor may not be aware of them. It’s sad but true. If you are Black or Brown, you are also much more unlikely to be informed of, and thus prescribed, certain medications that can ease your pain, suffering or even prevent the illness in the first place.
The only thing that we can do, is inform you about the latest medications you should know about to keep yourself healthy. No, we will not list every disease and treatment known to man, but we will provide content for those most commonly known to effect our community.
The Basics of Medications
Infections come in three forms; bacterial,viral and fugal.
Knowing about what bacteria are is beneficial to understanding what treatments may or may not work, and why.
“There are two types of bacteria: Gram-negative and Gram-positive. The key difference is the presence of an extra outer membrane in Gram-negative bacteria. It’s essentially an extra line of defence that makes it harder for antibiotics to penetrate, thus making Gram-negative bacteria more difficult to kill and more prone to developing resistance.”
Inappropriate usage and or abuse of antibiotics has helped create bacterial diseases that are resistant to treatment with different forms of antibiotic medications.
Not all bacterial infections will require treatment. Mild symptoms may be treated with over the counter medications to increase comfort.
Antibiotics may be used to treat bacterial infections that:
- are unlikely to clear up without antibiotics
- could infect others
- could take too long to clear without treatment
- carry a risk of more serious complications
People at a high risk of infection may also be given antibiotics as a precaution, known as antibiotic prophylaxis.
Types of antibiotics
There are hundreds of different types of antibiotics, but most of them can be classified into 6 groups.
- Penicillins (such as penicillin and amoxicillin) – widely used to treat a variety of infections, including skin infections, chest infections and urinary tract infections
- Cephalosporins (such as cephalexin) – used to treat a wide range of infections, but some are also effective for treating more serious infections, such as septicaemia and meningitis
- Aminoglycosides (such as gentamicin and tobramycin) – tend to only be used in hospital to treat very serious illnesses such as septicaemia, as they can cause serious side effects, including hearing loss and kidney damage; they’re usually given by injection, but may be given as drops for some ear or eye infections
- Tetracyclines (such as tetracycline and doxycycline) – can be used to treat a wide range of infections, but are commonly used to treat acne and a skin condition called rosacea
- Macrolides (such as erythromycin and clarithromycin) – can be particularly useful for treating lung and chest infections, or as an alternative for people with a penicillin allergy, or to treat penicillin-resistant strains of bacteria
- Fluoroquinolones (such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin) – are broad-spectrum antibiotics that were once used to treat a wide range of infections, especially respiratory and urinary tract infections. These antibiotics are no longer used routinely because of the risk of serious side effects
Viruses can affect any living thing. They are totally reliant upon the host to survive, thrive and reproduce. Viruses may transmit from person to person through:
- exchanges of saliva, coughing, or sneezing
- sexual contact
- contaminated food or water
- insects that carry them from one person to another
Some viruses can live on an object for some time, so if a person touches an item with the virus on their hands, the next person can pick up that virus by touching the same object. The object is known as a fomite.
When you contract a virus, you may not always get sick from it. Your immune system may be able to fight it off.
Once a person is infected with a virus, their body becomes a reservoir of virus particles which can be released in bodily fluids – such as by coughing and sneezing – or by shedding skin or in some cases even touching surfaces.
For most viral infections, treatments can only help with symptoms while you wait for your immune system to fight off the virus. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections. There are antiviral medicines to treat some viral infections. Vaccines can help prevent you from getting many viral diseases.
Fungal infections affect lots of guys, but are especially common for those of us that work-out, use public gyms, communal showers, and or share personal objects with others. A fungal infection is also known as mycosis. Although most fungi are harmless to humans, some of them are capable of causing diseases under specific conditions.
Fungi reproduce by releasing spores that can be picked up by direct contact or even inhaled. That’s why fungal infections are most likely to affect your skin, nails, or lungs. Fungi can also penetrate your skin, affect your organs, and cause a body-wide systemic infection.
Some common types of fungal infection include:
- athlete’s foot
- jock itch
- yeast infection
- onychomycosis, or a fungal infection of the nail
Some types of fungi don’t normally cause infections in humans but can cause sickness in people with weakened immune systems. These are called opportunistic infections.
Common forms of fungal infections affecting the skin, include:
- a burning feeling
- changes in skin color
- flaking or cracking skin
- a rash that gets worse when you exercise
Anti-fungal creams, either over the counter for mild symptoms, or prescriptions for more serious cases are the common treatments and cures.
Good hygiene is also critical for avoiding fungal infections.
- keep your skin clean and dry, particularly the folds of your skin
- wash your hands often, especially after touching animals or other people
- avoid using other people’s towels and other personal care products
- wear shoes in locker rooms, community showers, and swimming pools
- wipe gym equipment before and after using it
Sexually Transmitted Infections
As we have discussed earlier, STI/STD can either be bacterial or viral. This will, of course, effect your course of treatment. By clicking on any of the links for each infection, you will be taken to our article detailing all of the information you need about it. What we want you to know now, is that for most sexually transmitted infections, there is either a mode of prevention, treatment or outright cure.
Be careful when you read articles from other sources that play fast and loose with the term RESISITANCE. For example, gonorrhea.
“Gonorrhea has developed resistance to nearly all of the antibiotics used for its treatment. We are currently down to one last recommended and effective class of antibiotics, cephalosporins, to treat this common infection.”
The above statement is from the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You should notice that it states that gonorrhea is STILL TREATABLE.
We discuss HIV as needed, in many articles. Yes, we call it a gay male disease, but we follow that up by reminding you that it’s not even close to being the totality of gay male health concerns and should not be the end of your search for knowledge about your body.
With this being said, we would like to bring your attention to two medical interventions.
The first one is PrEP ( (pre-exposure prophylaxis) which has been tested many times, by healthcare organizations around the world, and found to be 99.99% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV in homosexual males.
There are two medications approved for use as PrEP: Truvada and Descovy.
- Truvada®external icon is for all people at risk through sex or injection drug use.
- Descovy®external icon is for people at risk through sex.
The second one is PEP (post exposure prophylaxis). Even though PEP has been around longer than PrEP, it is not as well known or used by gay males. This might be because there is a limited time window that allows you to begin this regime with maximum success.
“PEP is the use of antiretroviral drugs after a single high-risk event to stop HIV seroconversion. PEP must be started as soon as possible to be effective—and always within 72 hours of a possible exposure.”
If a medical provider has been exposed to HIV, PEP is the first response for treatment. So, it obviously works.
HIV treatment has come a very long way from the bad ole days of just AZT, or the need to take handfuls of medications three times a day, every day, at the exact same time. But, none of this matters if you are not informed about your options or refuse to take the medications as prescribed.
The list of active medications prescribed by medical providers is constantly growing and changing as our understanding of the virus and possible medication side-effects become greater. The best advancement has been the once a day, single pill option. “Single-tablet treatment regimens, or STRs, are becoming popular. STRs also known as fixed-dose combinations, mix several drugs into one tablet or capsule that you take once a day. You take an STR around the same time every day. You’ll need to take some STRs with food.”
This virus has created an entire scientific field around itself. Understanding the terms most commonly used and the types of possible treatments, will make conversations with your medical providers easier, faster and more productive.
- The treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day.
- ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. People with HIV should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible. ART can’t cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
- A main goal of HIV treatment is to reduce a person’s viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.
There are many HIV medicines available for HIV regimens. The HIV medicines are grouped into seven drug classes according to how they fight HIV.
The choice of an HIV regimen depends on a person’s individual needs. When choosing an HIV regimen, people with HIV and their health care providers consider many factors, including possible side effects of HIV medicines and potential drug interactions.
A full list of HIV medications as of 2020, may be found HERE. Not only does it have the name of the drugs but also links to more information about it, side effects, drug interactions and even a retail price guide. There are also pictures for those of you, like us, that can’t remember names of medications all the time.
Before you go
We picked infections that we believe that you, as a gay man, are most likely to encounter. Of course this list does not include everything, but it should give you a great start on the information you will, at some point, rely upon.
As amazing as our progress in treatment and prevention for infections has come, three issues still plague us as a community.
- Lack of testing: This includes for STIs but also other infections and even the common flu. Knowledge is power, and if you are getting regular check-ups, they should include tests for sexually transmitted illnesses, and NOT JUST HIV.
- Taking the medication as prescribed by you doctor: This should go without saying, but just because you are feeling better does not mean you should cease taking your meds. This, as well, as stopping and restarting medication regimes is what causes resistance within the individual and eventually, the illness LEARNING to counteract the effects of the medications. When you don’t take the meds as prescribed, you’re hurting yourself as well as our community.
- Not getting treated at all: This one is the saddest from our perspective, especially for HIV. If guys KNOW they have HIV, and for whatever reason, they are not being properly medicated, it is as if they were living before these medications were invented. So, our advancements mean nothing. Those lives lost…nothing. Further, not being treated for HIV or any other illness can lead to a progression of even more serious illnesses. Do yourself a favour and TAKE THE DAMN MEDICATIONS.
If you, or anyone you know, is having difficulties taking medications as prescribed, click HERE for a great article with tips and suggestions that have worked for us.
If you would like to know more about the vaccinations you should have, please click HERE.
Finally, if you have been prescribed a medication, one has been suggested for you, or a loved one’s, usage, and you would like to know as much about it as possible, click HERE. This site gives a detailed description of all current infectious disease treatments, as well as suggested usage guidelines, side-effects and drug interactions.