Men2Men Health: Don’t Worry, Be Savvy


Many guys avoid dealing with their sexual health. Fear, shame, and not knowing where to begin can make it tough to get tested and treated for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

This article aims to talk about the challenges gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men face, and why it’s important to overcome these challenges for a healthier, more confident life.

Breaking Through the Stigma: Why Men Delay Testing

  • Fear of the Unknown: Fear is a big reason why people put off testing. Not knowing what a positive result might mean makes many delay testing and facing reality.
  • Shame and Stigma: Shame often stops people from getting tested. Society’s negative views about STIs can make it hard for gay and bisexual men to take that first step towards testing and care.
  • Lack of Information: Not knowing enough about testing options, treatment, and prevention can be a big obstacle. When guys don’t have enough information, they may feel lost and unsure about what to do.

The Importance of Early Detection and Treatment

  • Early Testing Matters: Getting tested early is key. For STIs like HIV, early detection and treatment help manage the infection, prevent complications, and improve overall health.
  • Preventing Transmission: Knowing your STI status, especially for HIV, lets you take steps to prevent spreading it to others. Early detection and preventive measures, like condom use and PrEP, lower the risk of passing infections to partners.
  • Reducing Complications: Treating STIs early, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, prevents complications. Treating issues early is a smart way to protect sexual health.

The Lowdown on ARVs and PrEP

Living with HIV and ARVs:

Anyone with HIV must start and stick to ARV (antiretroviral) treatment as soon as possible. While HIV can’t be cured, ARVs are very good at controlling it.

  • Lowering the Viral Load: Starting ARVs early helps control HIV. It lowers the viral load, slows down the disease, and boosts the immune system. ARVs can lower HIV levels so much that normal blood tests can’t find the virus for as long as you continue to take ARVs. This is called being undetectable.
  • Reducing Transmission Risk: Effective HIV treatment not only helps the person but also lowers the risk of passing HIV to others. When someone with HIV is undetectable, there’s no chance of passing HIV on to someone else. It’s a win-win for personal and community health.

Staying HIV-negative with PrEP:

PrEP is a daily pill that protects against HIV. It’s over 99% effective at preventing HIV when taken correctly.

  • Recommended for High-Risk People: PrEP is for those at higher risk of HIV, like men who have sex with men (MSM) due to the increased risk associated with anal sex. Other high risk groups include people with many partners, drug users, sex workers, and transgender individuals. Being in a relationship with someone living with HIV and not on treatment is also high risk.

Early Treatment of Other STIs

  • Preventing Long-term Problems: Treating STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea early stops long-term damage. It’s easier and faster to treat STIs early. The longer an STI is left untreated, the harder and longer it takes to treat.
  • Breaking the Chain of Transmission: Early treatment protects you and helps stop STIs from spreading to others.

Being informed gives you control. So, don’t stress, end the stigma, and make testing, prevention, and treatment simple for everyone. Let’s be smart, talk openly, take a proactive approach, and make sexual health check-ups routine. Your well-being matters, and we’re here to support each other towards a healthier, more confident life!


Article courtesy of Engage Men’s Health, which offers free PrEP, ARVs, and other friendly and confidential sexual health services in Joburg, NMB, and Buffalo City for gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men. For more info or to make an appointment visit or call/WhatsApp 082 607 1686.

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