My heart sank when I opened the email.
I was shocked when the test came back positive for gonorrhea.
It didn’t take me long to figure out how I got it.
Last month, I had unprotected sex with a man who claimed condoms were “not for me.” When he asserted that he was HIV-negative, I jumped on the spot and agreed to move on.
But within minutes of leaving his house, I Realizing my mistake, fears and questions began to race through my mind – what if I caught something? Was he definitely HIV negative? When was the last time he was examined?
And was he really on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug commonly used by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of HIV?
I immediately went to the nearest sexual health clinic and asked for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), a combination of HIV drugs that may stop HIV transmission after the virus has entered the body.
Treatment must be received within 72 hours after exposure for a total of 28 days, or 1 month.
A nurse told me that PEP is not a “morning after pill” for HIV and that its effectiveness is not guaranteed. It is intended to be used as a last resort in emergencies, for example when a condom fails during sex.
The Terrence Higgins Trust makes a similar statement, pointing out that PEP does not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
“You said you were on PrEP, right?” a nurse asked me.
I started to nod, but on second thought, I realized I had missed my PrEP the last two times. I had run out of medication and had an appointment with a sexual health clinic later that month.
I was no longer protected from HIV. The thought of it sent chills down my spine.
Realizing that this was my last chance to prevent possible HIV infection, I dutifully took my PEP pills at 8am every morning. If you miss a dose, you run the risk of losing effectiveness.
After a month, the results finally arrived. Thankfully, I tested negative for HIV, but positive for gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that affects the urethra, rectum, cervix, and possibly the throat and eyes.
That’s exactly how I became part of a terrifying statistic.
There will be 82,592 cases of gonorrhea in the UK in 2022, a frightening 50% increase on the previous year.
These alarming numbers should be taken very seriously. These are part of a broader pattern of STDs on the rise in the UK.
That night was one of only two incidents where I didn’t use protection, and now I’m paying the price.
According to the United Kingdom Health and Safety Agency (UKSHA), an average of over 1,000 diagnoses are reported each day, part of a 24% increase in STIs last year.particularly at risk LGBTQ+ young men, especially with gonorrhea cases seeing a terrifying 41% increase.
I’ve always made it my rule to “be safe”, so the positive gonorrhea test was really upsetting. I always wear condoms to protect myself from STDs. That night, he was one of only two of her accidents in which I didn’t use protective gear, and he paid the price.
I felt so guilty.
And the “bb,” or “bareback,” trend is making things even worse. Homosexual men engage in unprotected sex based on the following beliefs: PrEP protects against all sexually transmitted infections.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a ‘Are you BB’ message on the gay dating app Grindr..
While PrEP is a safety net against sexually transmitted infections, some men suggest unprotected sex. Others claim that they are well aware of the risk of sexually transmitted infections, but that they “don’t care” and that a week of antibiotics will clear the virus.
I was always turning down offers and blocking people I thought were suspicious.
But on that special occasion, my sexual partner told me he was allergic to latex, so I felt I had to do it without a condom.
In that case, you also have the option of wearing a non-latex condom. But the only type of condom I had was latex. In order not to offend him, I reluctantly took it off and had unprotected sex.
The increase in gonorrhea cases is also not helped by the fact that sexual health services and their staff have long been overburdened by overserving and funding problems.
Successive Conservative governments have cut more than £1 billion of public health subsidies in England, which fund sexual health services, between 2015/16 and 2020/21.
Local governments are in trouble due to funding cuts To meet the growing demand for sexual health services. For example, getting a PrEP appointment can take weeks, if not months. So it’s sadly not surprising to see a terrifying rise in sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea.
Support services are also struggling. An organization called National Ugly Mags is working to give sex workers more access to protection, saying they “constantly face a battle to raise enough money”. there is
The 2022 monkeypox outbreak in the UK forced sexual health clinics to deprioritize their routine work on PrEP, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. About a quarter of sexual health services were evacuated as a result of monkeypox and STD testing in the UK. A 90% reduction was seen in the most affected areas.
Having tested positive, I decided to significantly reduce sexual contact with my new partner and establish a safer relationship. For now, I will not have sex until further notice.
I have always been conscious about my sexual health, but this experience made me even more responsible for my health and, just as importantly, the health of others.
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