My HIV Diary: HIV and STDs, Week 31
Ryan Dixon (a.k.a former porn star Kameron Scott) has started taking HIV medication. He’s keeping a diary of his experience.
Being in my mid-20’s isn’t easy, add HIV on top of that and we have one hell of a complicated life. I’m making the best out of the hand life has dealt me and the decisions I’ve made along the way. Writing helps free my mind. Hopefully these words will help you understand the plight of others like myself, and inspire you to live each and every day in the moment.
Week 31 (March 29 – April 4)
It’s day 218 and I’m feeling very good. I’ll have new numbers for you next week, but I suspect nothing has changed for the worse, even with my drug holiday. I had an amazing weekend with amazing friends. I really needed a distraction from everyday life to get me back on track. Sometimes all it takes is sun and someone else’s bar tab.
By the way, this weekend I also had a guy that I had hooked up with in the last couple of months contacted me to tell me he had gonorrhea. He was only telling me because we had hooked up with the same guy (yep, a threesome), and he had just told him. He was pretty much just covering his bases. While my test came back negative, it did get me thinking. How susceptible are HIVers to other types of sexually transmitted infections and diseases?
Those of us who are positive already have a compromised immune system, so obviously we’re more likely to catch something than a person with an uncompromised system. But those that are negative should beware, and STDs that cause irritation of the urethra, vagina, or rectum can increase the risk of HIV infection two- to five-fold, according to thebody.com. The way to combat that risk is, of course, STD screenings as part of your regular treatment for HIV.
Let’s face it, we’re not always as careful of discrete as we should be – present company included. But sometimes, you can’t help what happens. It’s easier to catch syphilis than it is to get HIV. Before penicillin, syphilis was looked at the same way HIV is today. I’ve been treated for it three times in my life. The main symptom is a painless sore called a chancre, which shows up at the place where the bacteria entered into the body. That sore may go unnoticed and may potentially increase a person’s chances of HIV infection.
Same thing with herpes simplex viral infections. The virus is very common and transmitted in skin-to-skin contact, just like syphilis. HSV can lie dormant until a person’s immune system becomes occupied with something else, like HIV. The virus then travels up nerve endings, creating those painful ulcers that are most commonly associated with herpes. Over time, most people’s immune systems develop the ability to keep HSV in check much of the time, but recurrent and/or severe outbreaks can be a problem for those whose immune systems are compromised by HIV.
Those of us in Florida and California are lucky. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has several free STD testing clinics located thru ought our states. You can find the closest one to you by going to freestdcheck.org. If you live anywhere else I suggest using the CDC’s testing resource.
Knowing where you stand with STDs is just as important as knowing your HIV status. Knowledge is power.