Biology (and “Genetic Endowment”)





Biology refers to things both inside and outside of our bodies. The biological determinants outside of our bodies are living things that we come in contact with.  These could be anything from bacteria, bugs, or animals.  These things can affect us in good and bad ways.  If we are exposed to something harmful, our body’s immune system will respond and fight off the infection.

Genetic endowment is the things that are passed down from parents and ancestors.  Things can be physical characteristics as well as hereditary health issues.  Things like allergies or other diseases can be passed generation to generation.

(Adapted from: Shared Health Exchange, www.shexchange.net)

Gay Men, biology, and HIV
HIV rates amongst gay men in Ontario and Canada have remained the same over the past 10-15 years.  We continue to make up almost half of the HIV infection rates in our province.  However, the sexual HIV transmission rate in gay men is higher than the rate seen in straight guys.  This is due to a number of biological, behavioral, and social factors.

The average HIV transmission rate during anal sex is thought to be 18 times higher than the rate during vaginal sex.  The risk of getting HIV during condomless anal sex is higher because the walls of the anus are thinner than the vagina making it easier for HIV to get into the bloodstream.

The fact that we aren’t just tops or bottoms, but many of us are versatile.  Those of us who are bottoms have a higher possibility of contracting HIV.  You can still be infected with HIV if you are a top the risk lower.  Recent research has shown that if the risk of HIV transmission through anal sex were the same as vaginal sex there would be an 80-90% reduction in new HIV infections among gay men.  The same research has shown that if gay guys were only bottoms or only tops there would be a drop of new HIV infections by 20-50%.  If these two things held true in the real world there would be as much as a 95% drop in new HIV infections among gay men.

 

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