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Parasites are organisms that grow and feed off of another organism. If these critters enter the digestive tract, they can cause symptoms similar to those of food poisoning.

Parasites are organisms that grow and feed off of another organism. If these critters enter the digestive tract, they can cause symptoms similar to those of food poisoning. You can contract parasites and amoebas the same way the hepatitis A virus is contracted -- through fecaloral contamination. Rimming, the act of stimulating your partner's anus with your tongue, is a common way gay men contract parasites.

A variety of organisms can make their home in the colon: giardia, salmonella, shigella, blastocystis, or campylobacter, but most are usually dealt with by the body's natural defense system. There is, however, always the possibility that once you are infected by one of these organisms you might develop a full- blown case of dysentery. Dysentery is another name for gastroenteritis, or the stomach fl u. It is not always certain that if you come into contact with one of these organisms you will definitely fall prey to gastroenteritis. It depends on your body's immune function and how much of the organism you were exposed to. Let's say, for example, that you are feeling tired and stressed out because of work; your immune system is down, but your boyfriend is on a natural high, having been offered a new promotion. If you were both to be exposed to giardia then, you would be more susceptible to a bout then he would be. It is also possible that if you were to become infected, you could transmit the parasite to him, especially if he enjoys rimming you. Risk of infection is always increased with repeated exposure to the offending organism.

Giardiasis is an intestinal illness caused by the parasite, Giardia lamblia, also known as Giardia intestinalis. It is one of the most common parasites that affect gay men. The symptoms of giardia include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, gas, and nausea. Diagnosing intestinal parasites and bacteria is done through a stool culture, which involves collecting your stool with a kit that is provided by your doctor. It's not fun, and it sounds messy, but there are so many different types of parasites, amoebas, and bacteria that proper identification of the organism is essential to choosing the correct medication.

If you have these symptoms, you'll be given a stool kit to use at home, and then you'll be started on two antibiotics to cover both bacterial and parasitic infections. Once the stool culture results come in, doctors can modify the treatment by removing the unnecessary antibiotic. Over-the- counter antidiarrheals are not recommended, even though it is sometimes impossible to function in the real world when you have the trots. Antidiarrheals inhibit your body from naturally ridding itselfof the harmful toxins and causative organisms. One of the body's objectives in producing diarrhea is to remove the offending organisms naturally.

As far as STDs are concerned, it is important to understand that although sex can be quite pleasurable, there can be consequences, especially if you have multiple sex partners. Try to remember to recognize any genital symptoms such as discharge, burning during urination, or unusual sores or rashes. This should signal you to stop having sex and to consult a doctor immediately. If you are told you have any STD and receive treatment, you should notify all of your recent sex partners so that they may see a doctor as soon as possible.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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