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By Bruce J.Little

 

Fewer guys are using condoms these days, and there are a few reasons why this is not a good idea. Some guys that are HIV-negative are taking PrEP and feel that they no longer need condoms to prevent becoming HIV-positive, and other guys just prefer the sensation of condomless sex. But here’s the clincher: Having sex without a condom puts you at risk of more than just HIV.topbottomdogs

Now, there is a solid argument about how much better it may feel to have sex that is skin-to-skin, but maybe we just need to see this in a new light. Perhaps we should make barebacking (condomless sex) the goal (exception) but not the rule, to minimise putting ourselves and others at risk. Maybe if we can save this very intimate and vulnerability causing way of having sex for special occasions. Occasions that we have prepared for and when we know the health status of our partner for sure.

Even if you are on PrEP, you need to have been taking it as prescribed for at least ten days for it to effectively prevent HIV transmission, and even then, you are still vulnerable to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes and hepatitis. Many guys who have these STIs have no symptoms at all. You wouldn’t be able to see that they have it.

The prevalence of STIs and the fact that they have not been treated effectively is what has caused dangerous drug-resistant strains of these infections to become very common. It’s bad enough to have an STI, but to get an STI that is persistent and very difficult to treat is even worse.

Good old-fashioned condoms and water-based lube is still the best way to protect yourself from unwanted STIs.

When you hook up with someone that you know little to nothing about, it’s not worth taking the risk and having unprotected sex with him, because chances are that he may not even know that he has HIV or an STI. 1 in 6 HIV-positive people have no idea that they are positive and the number of people who have other STIs, but have no idea, is much, much bigger!

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By Bruce J. Little


Having low self-confidence is a major obstacle in life. So, when you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s harder for others to believe in you. Sometimes you’ve got to be your own unicorn cheerleader!

Going for a job interview? If you are not confident that you’ll be able to do a good job, it can affect your chances of getting the gig. Want to ask that sexy guy out on a date? If you don’t believe that you’re good enough for him, then he probably won’t think so either. Here are some tips on how to boost yourself healthily to get closer to being able to get the things that you want in life:h4mlogo

- Avoid negative and critical people. It can be funny to listen to guys throwing shade (being critical) about others, but it’s only a matter of time before they throw that shade at you and that can be like being crushed under a gazebo gurl! Surround yourself with people that build you up and not people that break you or other people down. That negative energy can kill your self-esteem. Detox your crew. Anyway, crumpled bitchface causes wrinkles.

- Don’t diss others either. Don’t waste your time criticizing or talking crap about others; it just smears you with the same stinky brush (even if it is true). If you focus on negative things, then you will get more negative things. Focus on positive things and positive people, and then that’s what you’ll get more of. Encourage other, and they’ll encourage you. Bitchy guys are funny but nobody trusts them.

- Get fitter. You don’t need to have a gym contract. There’s loads of free info on the net on how you can do simple exercises in the comfort of your own home (Google callisthenics). It’ll make you feel better about yourself, and the regular rush of endorphins from the exercise is a natural high. It’s not about looking like a fitness model, but about loving yourself enough to take care of your body.

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By Bruce J. Little

 

Having shingles is no joke. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, and even if you’ve already had chickenpox, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from ever getting shingles.

Once you’ve had chickenpox the virus stays in your body forever and if you are elderly, your immune system becomes weak, or you get very stressed, the virus can get reactivated, which can cause a case of shingles. Luckily, it’s easy to treat, and you can get treated for shingles at a Health4Men Clinic near you, for free.

What is shingles? At first, it appears as a rash on an area of your skin. It can appear as a patch or a band around one section of your body, but it doesn’t appear all over the body as chickenpox does. It rarely crosses the mid-line of the body i.e. the blisters occur on one side or the other but not both The rash gradually becomes a series of red blisters and these eventually dry out and then flake off. Shingles can be very painful and can also be accompanied by itching, tingling, headaches and swollen glands under the arms and around the throat. Some people also develop sores on their genitals. You should go to your nearest doctor or clinic if you have any of these symptoms.Shingles

If you have a weak immune system or you are HIV-positive and are not receiving ARV treatment, you may be more vulnerable to reactivation of the chickenpox virus,which causes shingles.

You can get shingles if your immune system is weak and you are exposed to someone who has the chickenpox or shingles virus. When someone has a shingles skin rash, especially if blisters are present, then that person is very contagious to anyone who has never had shingles or chickenpox before. The fluid in the blisters contains a large amount of chickenpox virus which is transmittable.

Most cases of shingles go away by themselves after about three weeks, but pain medication and antiviral medication can help to speed up the healing process and make it a lot less painful. Proper treatment also lowers the risk of residual pain which sometimes occurs even after the rash has healed.

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Depression is the most common psychiatric illness worldwide, with the average person having a lifetime risk of about 10% of having a depressive episode (1). It is also one of the most underdiagnosed psychiatric conditions, especially in men.
However, research has shown that people with HIV have a much higher risk of developing depression, about 2-3 times higher (2), with some studies showing rates higher than 50% (3), of people who have HIV also having depression.Anovalogos
So what does this mean for you? If you have HIV you stand a greater risk for developing depression due to a number of factors. However, depression is treatable, and so the sooner you recognise the symptoms, the sooner you can get help.
So what are the symptoms of depression? Depression is more than just a low mood, or feeling sad. It effects just about every aspect of our lives, and that’s why its so important to get treated if you do have depression. Below is a list of symptoms that may indicate depression. Some of these you may not have even noticed in yourself, but may have been pointed out by a friend or co-worker.

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By Bruce J. Little

Not sure if it’s me getting older and more set in my ways, or just wishful thinking, but I am finding it so much easier to be single this time around. I know, I know… When someone goes on about how “happy” they are to be single, it’s usually a case of trying to convince others to try and convince yourself. But this time it really isn’t all that bad! In fact, it has its awesome moments. It only took me five minutes back on the “Grind” as a new singleton to see how many people in open relationships there are in Jozi alone. Plench! And I’ve come to realise that relationships and how we define them are rapidly mutating and changing to meet our needs. It’s exciting to think that I can define the boundaries of my next relationship to suit my needs as well as those of my partner. We won’t have to conform to anybody else’s standards. But I’m in no rush for that to happen because my current singular status has its benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being someone’s boyfriend. I loved the nesting and cuddling and Netflix and chilling, but I’m also really enjoying being able to watch whatever I feel like watching now. I have a lot of freedom at the moment and can do whatever I feel like whenever I feel like doing it, and it’s quite rad. Being a considerate person, I find myself regularly considering the person I am in a relationship with. But at present I can be selfish and consider myself. I’m taking it easy and it’s great. I’m taking care of myself, working on improving and building myself up. I’m giving myself TLC and I’ve come to realise that it’s something that I do very well. I’ve always known that I have a lot of love to give, and now I’m enjoying reflecting some of that good stuff back at myself.Leathercouch

There are so many options open to me. I can go on dates, or I can stay at home in my PJs watching series and eating almond butter out of the jar, if that’s what I want to do. Because I like to keep having options, I always ensure that I have condoms and water-based lube somewhere on hand or in my car’s cubbyhole, just in case “summin summin” should come up. I also make sure I replace them regularly and don’t let them expire. I’m not really big on one-night-stands anymore. I can be as frigid as a Friar or represent the “hoe is life” philosophy and embrace “Hoeism” if taken by the spirit at a later stage, and what’s more? I can change these states of mind from day to day as it suits me.

If I eventually do start to lean more towards the “Hoeism” side of the spectrum I could also consider the possibility of going on PrEP. I have choices. I have a lot of power to decide these things for myself and it feels good being able to exercise these choices. No man is an island, but at this stage of my journey I am finding that being just one is a load of fun.

Bruce J. Little is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.

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