this postsecret reminded me of a question i got the other day. the lovely person, let’s call them Wondering, mailed in to say that they had discovered they had genital herpes.
Wondering’s blisters had been misdiagnosed years before and every time they had gone in for STD blood tests, nothing came up.
now, just a little PSA: your genital herp is something that might never express and something you need to test for when you do your general STD check-up. that means you’re ASKING for HSV-1 and HSV-2 tests from your local healthcare or blood place. they’re not going to simply assume you want the full spectrum scan.
my doc even went so far as to say that if you’ve had ‘fever blisters’, chickenpox or shingles, you’re going to want to get a localised (as in genital) swab – ie women, when you get a pap smear you ask for a HSV-2 check.
the next problem Wondering has is with the fact that they had practiced unprotected sex for many, many years and was horrified about what that meant.
the herp is NOT a death sentence. my god it’s hardly a thing.
my answer to that is while it’s not awesome, BOTH PARTIES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR SEXUAL HEALTH. it takes two (or three or however many is in your party of titillation) to tango.
finally, that horror that Wondering is expressing needs to addressed.
the herp is NOT a death sentence. my god it’s hardly a thing. you take medication, wear condoms (speak to your GP about the realities of body fluid and viral load here), you eat properly and lay off sex when the shedding starts. (for women this might be tricky to be clear about if you form blisters internally, but the tingling and itching will be sure markers.)
it is time we lay off making ‘sex diseases’ any more ‘horrific’ than ‘normal diseases’.
you can pick up any number of weird viruses, tummy bugs, bacterias and cancers from simply being a human living amongst other humans, doing everyday human things.
but take your clothes of and an std is the big baddie
you don’t wash your hands and touch everything around you, including your face and mouth. you eat food prepared in unsanitary places by people who’ve jerked off and picked their noses. you breath in other people’s sneezes and coughs and foul breath. you share office germs, and your kid’s kindergarten share is a tropical infection that floors you. you don’t brush your teeth and collect an eye-watering amount of foulness that you pass onto others when you kiss. you smoke, drink, snort all kinds of rubbish up your nose that your cardiovascular system has to cope with. you eat shit that kills you and drink stuff that poisons you. you spend most of your life sitting and get blood clots. or you eat too little and exercise your body to death and then wonder why your bones break and your muscles tear when you’re 80.
we do all of that and pick up all kinds of killer infections and body dis-eases with our clothes on.
but take your clothes of and an std is the big baddie.
laughably, some ‘STDs’ don’t even require you to take your clothes off.
we’re scared of confrontation and conflict; no one likes to be rejected
there is no denying that any life-altering disease – NOT JUST STDS – can make for awkward and unpleasant conversations. especially so if you are insecure about it, don’t have support or don’t know how to share in new relationships. they quickly raise value and morality systems that otherwise may have hidden quietly for years. we’re scared of confrontation and conflict; no one likes to be rejected.
the quicker we equalise disease as part of the human condition and take responsibility for ourselves and our health, the better we’ll make progress in our conversations and actions about it.