Dear Dr. Dick,
I like licking booty . . . I can do it for hours. I was recently vaccinated for hepatitis A - so I don't have to worry about getting that. Since I had been vaccinated, I thought I could lick to my heart's content. That was, until my best friend told me about some kind of stomach bug he caught that made him very sick. From what he and his doc could figure, he probably caught the bug from letting his tongue go wild one weekend at a local sex club. So, what's the poop on this?
Loves To Lick Ass
Rimming is a sexual activity that many gay and bi men enjoy doing. The good news is that rimming carries a very low risk for HIV transmission - just make sure to keep your mouth healthy with regular brushing, flossing and trips to your dentist. And to hear that you've been vaccinated for hepatitis A - if only all gay men would get the vaccine we could prevent many unneeded illnesses. [Please see issue 19 for more on hepatitis. -ed.]
Now the not so good news about licking booty. Sadly, if you rim without some kind of protective barrier, you are very much at risk for a variety of other bugs that can make you very sick. And if you have HIV or have a weakened immune system from something else, these little bugs can really wreck your health. You probably already know about gonorrhea - you can get it in your butt and in your throat. But there are other harmful bugs - bacteria and parasites - that you should be concerned about, too. You may have heard of some of these . . . Shigella, Giardia, Cryptosporidia, Salmonella. Salmonella received a lot of press a few years ago when a child got it from a fast food restaurant.
Some people who have healthy immune systems will clear parasites or harmful bacteria without any treatment. But if you are HIV positive or weaken your immune system with drug use, you might not be so lucky.
So, how do you know if you have one of these bugs? Well, as you might have guessed, not everyone who has caught one will have noticeable symptoms. You might just have a few days of mild and brief diarrhea. You might just lose your appetite. If you do have symptoms, some that are more likely to show up include gas, abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or fever.
How do you enjoy your pastime and avoid these evil critters? Again, the answer is pretty simple. Make sure the butt you're lovin' is clean. The two of you can enjoy a nice warm soapy shower first. If no shower is available, use a dam or piece of cling wrap, or stick to fingering. Be sure to wash your hands after any sort of butt play, especially before you eat that late night snack. If you are sucking dick that has recently been up somebody's ass, it can be a risk for these things as well.
Even if you don't rim, you can still get exposed to one of these bugs. Imagine you finger your partner or you touch something that has shit on it - like removing the condom after you screw. Let's say you grab a cigarette to relax . . . did you touch the tip of the cigarette or stick your finger in your mouth?
Remember: if you ever have diarrhea for more than three days, see a doctor right away. If you've got the runs and feel dizzy or lightheaded or have rectal bleeding, don't wait the 3 days - see your doc immediately. Don't take anti-diarrheals like Pepto Bismol or Imodium unless your doc tells you it's okay. These medications don't help with parasites and some harmful bacteria. In fact, over-the-counter diarrheals just make some conditions last longer. Your doc might put you on some other medication to help you get rid of the bugs. But even with medication, sometimes it takes a while to completely clear them from your body. Also, you want to keep your body hydrated. Talk to your doc about the best way to do this. Drinking fruit juice with a pinch of salt and some honey or sugar can sometimes help. And finally, you may have to take a break from your drug use. Recreational drugs can make your health worse and prevent you from making a full and quick recovery.
So, ask potential partners if they've had diarrhea recently. Wash any body part that might have come in contact with shit, before it goes in a mouth. Use a latex barrier if you aren't sure. And always wash your hands before you eat - after all cleanliness is next to godliness.