May 16, 2016

When is the Last Time You Were Tested?

In a culture were we talk about just about everything, we have stopped talking about HIV/AIDs and other STIs. Sex is in ads for soda, sex is a topic for political debate, sex is on social media, tv, billboards, etc. So why aren’t we talking about STIs? Condom and lubricate ads are commonplace, promising more pleasure and stimulation but they were created for safety. Condoms are meant to curb the chances of unwanted pregnancy and STIs and lube was originally meant to assist with an under-lubricated vagina. We shop for the “right” condom but seem to forget to bring up what it is needed for. Or worse, we neglect to use one all together because of discomfort about how we may make the other person feel when we ask to use one.

With advancements in the treatment of HIV/AIDs, people are not as afraid of contracting STIs including AIDs/HIV, which is a dangerous attitude. I worked with multiple clients that are HIV positive and their symptoms are managed which is wonderful. (But I promise you they would prefer not to have it.) The idea that medicine has come a long way since the 1980’s and many of my positive clients will die old people is wonderful but that doesn’t mean that we should be any less vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread.

Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting tested each year at your annual exam/physical. You are there anyway, why not? It is also a good idea to get tested 3-6 months after any “high-risk” behavior. “High-risk” behaviors are IV drug use, unprotected sex (including oral sex), and exposure to someone else’s blood.

Getting diagnosed with an STI can be scary, painful and isolating. There is nothing sexy about that. In a culture were sex is mentioned, alluded to and implied regularly, we have done ourselves a disservice by not including the topic of safety. The US has one of the highest rates of new cases of HIV/AIDs out of all of the industrialized countries, largely because we avoid talking about the need for protection and prevention.

It’s been my experience that people often expect other people to do things they have not or will not. If you haven’t been tested, why haven’t you? If you haven’t discussed it with your sexual partner, what is stopping you? There is no time like the

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