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Sorry, Steve Hickey. There's no conspiracy to hide the risks of gay sex.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News

A South Dakota state representative wants answers about the dangers of gay and lesbian sex.

State Rep. Steve Hickey posted a letter, titled "A One Way Alley for the Garbage Truck," on his Facebook page demanding the medical community "come out of the closet and give your professional opinion on this matter like you capably and responsibly do on all the others." The letter goes on to imply that homosexual acts, particularly anal sex, are self-evidently dangerous, and doctors are keeping the truth from the public.

There's a problem with the basis of Hickey's letter: it's no secret among the medical community that there's a higher risk of spreading HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections through anal sex, the prevalent form of sexual intercourse among gay men.

But the risks of HIV transmissions aren't even the same for all gay men. Men doing the actual penetration are much less likely to get infected with HIV than those on the receiving end. The partner doing the penetration is, in fact, less likely to catch HIV than a woman participating in vaginal sex.

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Chart by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There are also well-known precautions that gay men can take to avoid getting or spreading infections. Monogamy is one obvious preventive measure. There's even a drug doctors can prescribe — Truvada — to help prevent HIV infections. And as the chart above shows, condoms alone can significantly reduce the risk of transmission. (There's also early evidence that suggests those treated for HIV can reduce their viral loads to nearly eliminate the chance of transmission.)

The other problem is that gay men aren't the only ones who participate in anal sex; heterosexual couples do as well. A federal survey found, for example, that 44 percent of men and 36 percent of women ages 25-44 had engaged in anal sex with the opposite sex. Hickey briefly acknowledged this point in an interview with TPM, but it didn't seem to prevent him from going on to decry the dangers of gay sex.

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Many of the supposed risks to homosexual acts also don't apply to lesbians. In March, federal officials confirmed the first case of female-to-female HIV transmission — a sign of just how rare these kind of transmissions are.

So the medical facts are out there. It's just a matter of trying to look up the vast body of research before writing an angry open letter to medical providers.