Bacteria & Parasites

These STDs are any parasite, virus or bacteria found in feces that can cause symptoms in your bowels.

The three most common bacteria are Shigella, campylobacter and salmonella. The first two are the most common among gay men, and while salmonella is usually a result of contaminated food, it can also show up among gay men as an STD.

The three most common parasites among gay men are amoebas (E. histolytica), giardia, and cryptosporidium. It's been estimated that 10% of the world population is infected with amoebas, although less than 10% of those infected will develop severe symptoms.

How do you get it?
Through any activity that transmits someone's fecal matter to your mouth - rimming, fingering, or sharing sex toys. If you keep playing after anal sex, you can pick up an infection from licking or sucking someone's balls, thighs, belly, or butt cheeks.

How do you avoid it?
Contrary to popular thinking, a good anal scrub doesn't really help. As with hepatitis A, however, an awareness of where your hands, mouth and dick have been does. The bottom line is keeping an infected person's fecal matter out of your mouth.

As many as half of all infections have no symptoms. Most bacterial and parasite infections are similar, ranging from watery diarrhea without significant cramping to bloody diarrhea with sever abdominal pain. In some cases, more systemic effects like fever, nausea, vomiting and/or headache occur. Symptoms usually begin within 24 to 36 hours of infection.

Testing and treatment?
Your health care provider will collect a fecal sample and get it tested, although stool samples often have to be repeated as many as three times. Different antibiotics are prescribed to combat different bacterial and parasitic infections. As with any course of antibiotics, it is critical that you finish the medication, even if your symptoms have subsided.

HIV connection?

  • If you're HIV+ and take medications that cause episodes of diarrhea, a bacterial or parasitic infection can go undetected and untreated.
  • If you have AIDS, these infections can more likely develop into serious illnesses, which may recur after treatment.

What else should you know?
When rimming, use a latex barrier, such as a dental dam, or sheets of clear, non-microwavable plastic food wrap.