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Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases
For years, it's been recommended that men who have sex with men receive regular STD testing because of disproportionately high rates of infection among this community. Now, it appears as though commitment and marriage may be one way gay men can lower their risk of STDs and HIV.
Researchers from Statens Serum Institute and Aalborg University in Denmark discovered that the mortality rate for men in same-sex marriages has dropped significantly since the 1990s.
Monogamy may mean healthier men
According to the researchers, Denmark was the first country in the world to implement a law on registered same-sex partnerships in 1989. For the first few years, mortality was elevated among same-sex couples. However, after 1996 and the advent of effective treatment of HIV/AIDS, the mortality rate among men married to each other dropped to a level below that of unmarried or divorced men.
To come to this conclusion, scientists used Denmark's Civil Registration System to follow 6.5 million adults between 1982 and 2011. This is the first study to examine mortality rates in this manner.
"It is a novel observation that being married was not always protective. Among persons living alone and persons living in same-sex cohabitation, those who were married to a member of the opposite sex had noticeably higher mortality than unmarried and same-sex married persons. From a public health viewpoint it is important to try to identify those underlying factors and mechanisms that explain the lower mortality among married and cohabiting persons," said researcher Morten Frisch.
Gay men's health
It's important for gay men to know how to protect themselves against contracting an STD or HIV. According to the CDC, along with having high rates of STDs, men who have sex with men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men, which is often due to gay men having the human papillomavirus, which can cause the carcinoma.
The CDC recommends that all gay, bisexual, and other MSM should be tested for STDs and HIV every year. Furthermore, the CDC added that it's important for men to be open with their sexual partners about their STD history. Also, if both a man and his sexual partner text positive for an STD, they need to wait until after they have completed a full course of treatment before having sex. Too often, people believe that if both they and their partners have STDs then they can have sex. However, people need to realize that they can have a different strain of the infection or virus that they can pass on to their partner, worsening their condition.
Symptoms of STDs include a discharge from the penis, pain or burning around the penis, a single sore or multiple sores on the penis and a rash on the palms of the hands or bottom of the feet. Men who find that they are experiencing any of these symptoms should visit their doctor as soon as possible and encourage their sexual partners to do the same. In some states, people who are diagnosed with an STD may be given medication to bring to their partner.
Along with abstaining from sex or using protection, the CDC points out that the best way for men to avoid contracting an STD is to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. This may help explain why researchers in this recent study found that men in these committed relationships were living longer than those who are single.
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