What is Gay Bowel Syndrome?
Gay Bowel Disorder
is a term which was coined by Henry L Kazal in 1976 to refer to the group of diseases affecting the anal and rectal passage in homosexual men. The diseases were sexually transmitted and often included sexual traumas inflicted on the said location. It does not refer to any particular disease. It refers to the entire gamut of gastrointestinal problems affecting the anal tract. The most common outcome is Proctitis which essentially refers to an inflammation of the anal and rectal lining.
The different conditions which fall in the said category are diarrhea, hemorrhoids, anal fistula, proctitis, perirectal abscess, amebiasis, benign polyps, anal trauma and presence of foreign bodies, rectal ulcers, condyloma acuminta ( pappiloma or wart in the rectum) etc.
The condition was mostly caused by infections which could have been viral, bacterial or parasitic in nature. The different pathogens responsible would be the hepatitis virus, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, shigellosis, campylobacter, various protozoal infections and colon cancer.
The term “Gay Bowel Syndrome” was used in the pre-HIV era. With the onset of the HIV virus and the awareness spread with it regarding safer sexual practices the complaints started to wane off. In this context, it is important to mention that the incidence of HIV was very high among homosexuals to begin with. The transmission of the viruses and essentially the different pathogens were thought to be through the fecal-oral route (due to anal-oral sex) and due to anal sex.
There was widespread criticism regarding the term “Gay Bowel Syndrome”. It was found to be derogatory and homophobic. It is to be noted that the conditions associated with it had nothing to do with gay men. It can affect anyone whoever engages in sexual activity involving the anus. The term is no longer used. It was withdrawn by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 2005.