One of my friends that has been reading this blog has been badgering me to post some dating advice since I tend to be good with that. I wanted to start my dating advice with an important topic, a priori, that is STD testing. Getting yourself tested is where any pursuit of dating should begin.
I just went in for my tri-annual preventative STD screening, and like always got back my favorite results – across the board negatives. Three times a year may seem like a lot but I am generally a pretty sexually active person and I like being cautious. I am polyamorous, meaning I am romantically involved with and committed to more than one person at a time, and so are some of my partners. This certainly can open you up to more risk than a monogamous lifestyle if you don’t communicate well with your partners. No judgment on monogamous people, but apparently only polyamory is cool enough for its own website so you monogamous folks get a Wikipedia link (business idea for monogamy.com). Monogamy is great though, a totally valid sexual expression like being polyamorous, or being asexual. I’ll tell you one great thing about asexuality, there is a WAY lower chance of getting STDs though still a chance (blood transfusions, sharing a toothbrush with someone herpes positive, etc).
Communication is key to any functional relationship, be it romantic, monogamous, polyamorous, a friendship, or anything else. Communication is especially key in poly relationships, such as clearly discussing rules and boundaries, ones needs and desires. One established rule in my relationship is you can only be involved with people who have been recently tested and are clean; if in doubt ask to see paperwork. This may all seem like too much effort to you, if that is so then you aren’t paying attention, STD/STIs are far more common than ever and beginning to mutate into new forms. It’s only your life, you only get one and real life has no save points, no extra lives; it isn’t a game and you only get once chance at it. Though life isn’t a game live it like it is, be serious but have fun doing it. I play every chance I get through parkour, singing, dancing, or whatever else strikes me.
What’s great about getting STD tested over other tools in our sex-positive tool box is that medical testing doesn’t violate anyone’s religion. The pope has no qualms with you keeping your partner disease free. That means you should go get tested regardless of your faith, regardless of your sexual preference, and regardless of whether you are monogamous or polyamorous. Even if you’re not having regular sex with different partners, if you are planning to hetero-till-death-do-us-part marry someone you should get tested first. STD’s are for life, coincidentally like marriage, though also like marriage some can be treated and do not last forever.
Now that we have established why everyone should be tested, including asexual people (for their friend’s benefit if nothing else), let’s move on to the where and the how. Getting an STD test is a fairly painless process, about as painful as getting blood drawn. I am honestly needle/syringe phobic, even in movies they freak me out and cause a physical reaction; despite this I still go ‘under the gun’ three times a year because this matters far more than a little pinprick pain.
Where to go is a different matter and depends largely on where you live and whether or not you have insurance. Even though I have insurance I still prefer to go to Planned Parenthood because they are cheaper, friendlier, and best of all my money goes to a good cause instead of asshole Blueshield insurance. If you live in California, like me, breath a sigh of. While most states are limiting abortion access, our legislature just passed a new law expanding access to deal with the fact that 52% of counties in CA don’t have abortion access.
The how of STD testing seems pretty intuitive, go get tested, but there are many steps and potential pitfalls along the way. You can go through your insurance for what they will cover and use your primary care doctor; my insurance is rather limited which is one reason why I prefer Planned Parenthood. If you at LGBTQ, namely trans or gender queer, PP is wonderful for respecting your gender expression and asking your preferred gender pronoun; they offer a very safe space. For some things you don’t even need a doctor anymore, we’ve reached an age were HIV can even be tested for at home. Still, some areas of testing are severely lacking, such as HPV where we have no way to test men.
My hope in this post is to cause as many of you readers as possible who have not gotten tested to go out and get tested. My hope is to debunk myths about the pull-out method being just as good as condoms (for preventing pregnancy maybe, but enjoy your STDs). My hope is that with one blog post I can prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs, but I know it isn’t that simple, it takes more than hope. It takes you going out there and practicing safe sexual practices everyday. That is how you manage to be both sexually active and STD free for life; communication, regular testing, and condom use go a long way. Failing all that there is the Immunity Project who is working on a vaccine for HIV/AIDs which they plan to give to the world. Check out their work and see if you can help them out; I cannot think of a worthier cause.