At Melbourne Sexual Health Centre (MSHC) we strongly recommend that men who have sex with men (MSM) attend for regular screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
If you feel entirely well and have no symptoms of an STI (no discharge from the penis or pain on passing urine) then you may want to have what we call an “asymptomatic screen”.
An asymptomatic screen for MSM involves testing for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis and viral hepatitis. We test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia in the throat with a throat swab, in the penis on a urine sample and in the rectum by collecting anal swabs (this can be self-collected). We test for HIV, hepatitis A and B, and syphilis by taking a blood test. This test looks for antibodies in the blood that indicate you have been exposed to one of these infections. It is important to know that these antibodies don’t show up in the blood straight away. Although in some cases antibodies may be detected soon after infection, it can take up to 6 weeks after someone has been infected with HIV or syphilis before these infection(s) can be detect with a blood test. Hepatitis blood tests can also show if you are immune to hepatitis from previous vaccinations or infection. Hepatitis A vaccination is available from MSHC for MSM <20 years of age, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is available for MSM <27 years.
Gonorrhoea in the throat and rectum often has no symptoms. Gonorrhoea in the penis usually causes symptoms such as a discharge and/or burning when passing urine. Chlamydia infection does not usually cause symptoms. Syphilis, hepatitis and HIV often do not cause any symptoms.
One of the main reasons for testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, even if you have no symptoms, is that infection with chlamydia or gonorrhoea (as well as with syphilis or herpes) increases your chances of being infected with HIV or of passing HIV on to somebody else if you already have it.
We recommend that you should be screened for STIs, at least once a year. If you have a number of partners and have had unprotected sex (anal or oral ), then more frequent screening such as every 3 months is recommended. Also discussion re PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) against HIV infection with your health professional is recommended.
AFAO Australian Federation of Aids Organisation
As the peak national organisation for Australia’s community HIV response, AFAO (the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations) is recognised both globally and nationally for the leadership, policy expertise, health promotion, coordination and support we provide.
LGBTQI Switchboard provides telephone counselling and information.
3pm - midnight every day
Throne Harbour / Gay Men’s Health Service
ph: (03) 9865 6700
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association:
Minus18 is Australia’s largest youth-led network for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people.
The Youth Advocacy Centre offers free confidential legal and welfare assistance.
PEP information about the need for, and accessing, post-exposure prophylaxis to HIV
www.getpep.info 1800 889 887
PrEP information on where to buy PrEP online following medical consultation:
How to access pre-exposure prophylaxis in Australia, either by self-importing, or accessing a PrEP clinical study : PrEP Access Now or PAN: www.pan.org.au
10 things you need to know about PrEP (video): www.vac.org.au/hiv-aids/pre-exposure-prophylaxis-prep
This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on men who have sex with men. It is not intended to replace the need for a consultation with your doctor. All clients are strongly advised to check with their doctor about any specific questions or concerns they may have. Every effort has been taken to ensure that the information in this pamphlet is correct at the time of printing.Last Updated November 2017