Sexually active gay men are at higher risk for several health issues. If you want to live healthfully, take charge of your well-being and take care of yourself.
- Step 1: Address body image problems. Gay men are more likely to experience body image problems and eating disorders -- such as anorexia and bulimia -- than straight men. If you have body-image problems or an eating disorder, talk to your doctor or a trusted friend or loved one.
- Step 2: Don't let fear of homophobia prevent you from telling your doctor about your sexual orientation. Take responsibility for your health and be vigilant about disease screenings and any health concerns you may have.
- FACT: As of 2009, gay and bisexual men were 2 to 2 1/2 times more likely to smoke than heterosexual men.
- Step 3: Realize that you can be the victim of domestic violence. If your partner threatens to out you, belittles you, is violent, or rationalizes abuse, tell a friend, relative, or health care provider. Consider calling a domestic violence hot line and creating a plan to leave your abuser.
- Step 4: Get help from your doctor or a mental health provider if you think you may be depressed. Depression is common among gay men, with such contributing factors as a lack of a partner, anti-gay violence, and community alienation.
- TIP: Limit your alcohol consumption. Under the influence, people are more likely to lose inhibitions and make poor decisions -- including engaging in higher-risk behavior.
- Step 5: Seek help for substance abuse. Substance abuse can become a crutch to overcome shame, fear, denial, or anxiety associated with being in the closet or with not being accepted by loved ones after you've come out. Contact a local LGBT support center for a referral for treatment.
- Step 6: Get tested for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. If you're not in a monogamous relationship, know the risks associated with sexual venues, such as bathhouses and sex parties. These places encourage and anonymous sexual encounters, as well as higher-risk sexual behavior. Use protection for any type of sexual activity.