The start of a new year marks the beginning of “annual physical” season, a time when many take advantage of the no-cost physical exams provided by insurance coverage. For those insured, it is likely that the annual physical will be fully covered by insurance. This regular check-up can lead to the early detection of diseases and cancers, providing individuals with more treatment options and a better prognosis.
However, many men, especially those who have sex with men (MSM), do not undergo an annual physical or have it done properly. Despite their HIV status, every individual should have an annual physical to maintain their health. One man, who underwent an annual physical regularly, was able to catch a very early stage of anal cancer caused by a tear and HPV prior infection. He was able to receive outpatient surgery and did not need chemotherapy or radiation, thanks to the early detection of the affliction.
Men who have sex with men should take note of the following tests and procedures during their annual physical. According to leading gay gastroenterologist Dr. Carlton Thomas, men should expect a thorough physical exam, including age-specific checks for testicular, rectal, and prostate issues. Blood panels, such as a CBC and CMP, should be conducted to check for markers related to liver and kidney function, as well as for cholesterol and triglycerides. Men who have sex with men should also request blood tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, such as syphilis, herpes, and Hepatitis A, B, and C. Urine tests can detect gonorrhea and chlamydia, while throat and rectal swabs can detect gonorrhea and chlamydia, respectively. Men who have sex with men should also discuss HPV and anal dysplasia screening with their doctor.
It is important for men to be open and honest with their doctor about their sexual preferences and habits, even if it may be embarrassing. This information helps the doctor determine what tests and vaccines are necessary for the individual’s well-being. Doctors are bound by HIPAA laws to keep medical and personal information confidential.