By Maynard, LINX Coach
Knowledge is power, and for Guys Like Us, power is not an option.
We may know our status when it comes to HIV, but there are other tests that need to be updated regularly in order to insure our health. No one test can tell us whether we are “healthy” or not. Living our best life means taking ownership of our health: taking ownership of our health means making sure we are engaged in treatment, take our meds, and know our status.
Here are five things you should test for even after you know your status:
Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, is a virus that nearly all sexually active men and women at some point in their lives. The virus has been linked to genital warts and cancers in the throat, anus, and penis.
Vaccines have been recommended for youth, and is also recommended for men who have sex with other men, and those living with HIV/AIDS up to 26 years of age.
Nicknamed, “The Great Imitator” by health educators, Syphilis is an infection that is particularly sneaky and hard to diagnose without regular testing. Symptoms can present as a mild and temporary, and can often fade without treatment. However, it will still hang around in your body, so waiting for a sign that you may have something is not a good idea. The consequences of syphilis going untreated can damage internal organs and even cause blindness.
The good news is that Syphilis is curable, meaning that it will not hang around for the rest of your life if you have it; talking with your doctor and getting tested regularly will make sure that if you do have Syphilis, it can be taken care of.
This one has a nickname too: “The Silent Infection.” Chlamydia’s most common symptom is actually having no symptoms. Consequences can be as severe as infertility and increase a person’s risk of acquiring HIV if they don’t have it.
Luckily, after screening for the infection, your healthcare provider can prescribe antibiotics. They may choose to do a test of cure about 3 weeks later to make sure it is out of your system, but the good news is when it is out, it is out!
Burning, itching, or weird leaks? “That’s a sign I need my Doctor,” you might think. And you would be right! But, while it may be the second most common STD in the US, Gonorrhea also has a bad habit of sometimes having no symptoms at all. Not only that, but like other STDs on this list, infections can be localized to the throat, rectum, and penis, so getting tested involves getting samples from all three areas of the body.
Regular testing means getting samples of urine and swabs of the throat and anus, so be sure to get all three.
Like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis, you can have Herpes and not feel a thing. But Herpes can have flare-ups including painful blisters, open sores, and difficulty peeing.
Herpes is also virus, like HPV, which means that there is no cure. However, with medication and consistent treatment, flare-ups can be mitigated, and chance of transmission can be reduced. HIV, as big as it is, is only one part of the health picture. As we become advocates for our own health and our bodies, the conversations we have with our doctor and and the knowledge we arm ourselves with will protect us both as proud black men and as a proud black community.