STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections)

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

These are two very common STIs! Georgia is ranked 6th in the nation for the number of gonorrhea and chlamydia cases. Most doctors test with a urine sample only, but this misses the two most common places: the throat and rectum! It’s important to go to a doctor who is well-versed in STI testing and performs throat and rectal swabs for gonorrhea and chlamydia testing. Plus, 70% of men have no symptoms at all, so it’s important to get routine testing. Screening intervals depend on your sexual activity, but most should be screened at least yearly and sometimes as often as every 2-3 months. 

Treatment is with antibiotics and has a 95-99% cure rate. Left untreated, these infections can cause inflammation, leading to cell break down and tiny openings in the mucosal surfaces, increasing the risk for HIV and other STIs.


Georgia has the 3rd highest syphilis rate in the country, with the bulk of those infections happening in Fulton County. Syphilis is known as the “great mimicker” in medicine because it can present in countless ways from a single painless genital lesion to a rash, blurry vision, hair loss, or numbness in the feet.

Testing and monitoring for a cure is also tricky and many physicians are unaware of how to properly diagnose, treat, and monitor for a cure. Treatment is with an injection of specialized penicillin that kills the organism over 14-21 days (no sex during this time while the antibiotic is working!). Blood work will often appear positive months and sometimes years after treatment, so it’s important to go to a doctor who specializes in STIs.

HPV and Genital Warts

HPV is the most common STI in the world! 90% of all adults who are sexually active will contract the virus at some point. Thankfully, of the 120 strains of HPV, most of them just cause mild inflammation and the body clears it in 1-2 years with no harm done. But 16 of the strains can cause cancer and 4 of them can cause genital warts. 

Despite its prevalence, most doctors don’t screen for HPV. At Elysium, we do. 

Here’s why: HPV is responsible for 95% of all head and neck cancers (throat, esophageal, and tongue) and over 90% of rectal cancer. 1 out of 100 HIV positive gay men will develop rectal cancer, and rectal cancer is 30x more common in HIV negative gay men. HPV is incredibly contagious and most partners exchange strains after no more than four sexual encounters. 

By screening for HPV, we can find any pre-cancerous lesions and remove them before they develop into cancer. Just like we get a colonoscopy to remove precancerous polyps, we can perform an HRA to remove precancerous rectal lesions. 

Performing a rectal Pap smear not only helps screen for precancerous cells, but it also helps screen for internal genital warts. HPV is curable, so if you’re battling HPV, make an appointment with Dr. Elliot today. 

If you haven’t received the Gardasil Vaccine already, you should! It’s 95% effective against genital wart and provides 92% protection against the cancer-causing strands. Administered in a three-dose series, it’s an essential vaccine and now FDA approved up to age 45. 

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes prevalence data relevant to the LGBTQ population is tough to come by because it’s not a reportable infection, unlike other STIs. We know there are over a million new cases in the United States every year and in one study of 6 major metropolitan cities (Baltimore, Boston, Dever, Dallas, and Chicago), Atlanta had the highest prevalence of genital herpes. Most patients are asymptomatic carriers and never know they have it. Symptoms are mainly painful small blisters at the site of infection that can take 2-3 weeks to heal. During this time, they are highly infectious; however, most patients actually contract herpes from asymptomatic carriers who have no active outbreak! 

Diagnosis is made with visualization of blisters and swabbing them to look for HSV-1 and 2. 

Treatment is with an antiviral medicine (Valacyclovir) that helps clear the infection in 5-7 days. Genital herpes is a lifelong infection and outbreaks of herpes can happen a few times a year. Right now, we don’t have a cure, but taking a daily suppressive medication can lower your risk of passing herpes to others. 

If you’re looking for comprehensive STI care, give us a call at 470-663-6622.