doctor condomless gay sex

We Asked This NYC Doctor What He Thinks About Condomless Gay Sex

This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)

Large numbers of gay men engage in sex without condoms, so earlier this spring, Hornet — the world’s premier gay social network, and also the parent company of this site — held a panel conversation entitled “Gay Sex: A Raw Conversation” with a porn star, HIV activists and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a medical doctor working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and also the star of the Here TV program The T with Dr. D.

Hornet Senior Health Innovation Strategist Alex Garner caught up with Daskalakis after the event to ask his professional opinions about condomless sex, gay and bi men’s sexual health and the effects sexual health has on mental health.

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Dr. Demetre Daskalakis

What do you think condomless sex means in regards to sexual health?

Condomless sex is a reality of our scenario in 2017. Some people use condoms every time. Many others are inconsistent or don’t use them at all. From the sexual health perspective, the message is to use condoms as often as possible, ideally every time; but, if you can’t or won’t use condoms, then take daily PrEP or HIV treatment depending on your status to keep yourself and your partners healthy. No matter which strategy you choose, getting tested for STIs (including HIV) every three months is critical to identifying and treating any infections early.

Our relationship to sex without condoms is heavily impacted by our history. How would you describe your relationship to the epidemic?

I lived through the bad old days when we had few meds, complications, and sex was being equated to death. I feel privileged to be part of a renaissance of sexual health that focuses on HIV less and on sexual health, in general, more.

What impact does condomless sex have on gay men’s mental health?

That’s a complex question. For some, condoms are just a part of their reality; for others, they represent a barrier to intimacy. I think that different men have different relationships to condoms. For some, condoms remove anxiety; for others, they add to it. It’s really about acknowledging the diversity of feelings and offering strategies to prevent HIV and STIs that respect these feelings.

What have you found to be the best strategy to reduce STIs if having condomless sex?

Test and treat! Men having condomless sex should get tested for HIV (if they are negative), syphilis, and gonorrhea and chlamydia from their throats, butts and urine/penis at least every three months.  Early detection and treatment leads to better control of STIs in the long term!

Public health often views condomless sex as a pathology, but how might choosing to pursue pleasure and intimacy actually be resiliency?

I feel that — at least in New York City — we do not pathologize condomless sex. We encourage people to live a full life that includes strategies that minimize risk of infection while maximizing their pleasure and intimacy goals. Like I say, the epidemic of HIV can only end with love, not stigma or guilt.  People need to live their truth but do so with eyes open to maintain both health and pleasure.

 

(Featured image by franckreporter via iStock)