Here Today, Gonorrhea Tomorrow

As I collect my thoughts on how to compose this piece, I’m staring out the window at yet another cold and dreary, blah day. Will this yucky weather ever go away? And what is there to do on days like today … Work remotely? Netflix and Chill? Engage in a power nap marathon? Sure, why not? But according to statistics and some not-so-far-fetched assumptions, the most popular thing to do when it’s cold out … may just have to do with gettin’ jiggy with it between the sheets. What’s the deal?

Here’s the thing: When the sun is busy playing hard-to-get behind the clouds and temperatures across the Peach State plummet faster than those carefree kids you see in your Instagram feed diving off cliffs in Malta, what do we do? We stay inside, of course.

Maybe we drink a hot toddy or two to stay warm … and then perhaps we get a little frisky (or friski-ER) with our significant other. Why? Because nothing is warmer and cozier than snuggling up next to someone, to enrobe yourself in their affection and most importantly – their body heat. Am I right? Based on statistics, possibly.

Brittany Rice, Buckhead resident and founder of iHoop Factory, agrees. “When it’s freezing outside and I don’t have to be at work or coaching at any of my camps, I’m at the house,” she said. “If I’ve got good company with me then yeah, I stay in and have all my fun at home.”

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as several state and county health agencies show Georgia ranks among the top “most sexually diseased” states in the U.S.

To drill down on that a bit more, a 2015 STD Surveillance Report reveals the Sandy Springs-Roswell region of Atlanta, in particular, has consistently had some of the highest STD rates in the entire country. Additionally, this metro-Atlanta region has also been ranked as one of the worst in the entire United States for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

So what does this mean for our LGBTQ community here in Atlanta? Well, that we’re just as bad … if not worse, and that’s because STDs have been significantly on the rise among gay and bisexual men nationally over the last decade.

Real Estate mogul Lonnie Hand chalks up the alarming numbers to the new developments in PrEP medications readily available today. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at risk for HIV take daily medicine to prevent HIV.

“So many guys are on PrEP, so they don’t feel like they have to use protection anymore. And there’s really no fear of contracting syphilis or ‘The Clap’ now because they know that’s just an antibiotic shot away. So, even though we should be … people aren’t worried about gonorrhea,” he said. “They’re just worried about HIV. Antibiotic-resistant strains of common STDs seem to be more and more prevalent in our community. We should still use protection and communicate with our sexual partners. “Condoms” shouldn’t be a bad word but too often we in the community (especially those of us on PrEP) treat it as such. That mindset needs to change.”

I spoke briefly on this topic with Dr. Ken Taylor, OB/GYN and Medical Director for Atlanta-based Chimera Medical Services. He doesn’t believe the rise of sexually transmitted diseases simply has to do with the weather.

“STDs are at an all-time high, so to me, that says people are engaging in sexual activity year-round. Does colder weather make us want to be intimate more frequently? Sure, I can see that,” said Dr. Taylor. “But does that mean the rate of infections transmitted sexually is lower when it’s warmer out? No, not necessarily. The increase of STDs is due to the loss of inhibition, and due to drug use or alcohol consumption – which is the number one drug for loss of inhibition.”

Making a direct correlation between cold weather and debauchery may be a stretch to some but to others, it makes perfect sense. More babies are conceived in the fall. Single men and women admittedly exhibit more risqué behavior in the fall and winter. Oh, and did I mention more than twice as many condoms are sold in the week before Christmas than the week after?

As long as temperatures feel somewhat subarctic to us Atlantans (because let’s face it – we can’t not have four seasons), our rates of STDs will still continually climb like koalas up trees in hopes of escaping the brush fires Down Under.


Pro tip

STD Awareness Week is April 12-18.

For information about getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases, visit