I bring this post to you to absolutely incite some sort of change or thought. I always say if I help anyone out with my blog, I humbly am surprised, but in this blog post, I am seriously hoping this makes you take action. It's off the usual beaten path, but just as important.
A week ago, a reader wrote me seeking advice, I'm going to call her Sandra. Sandra had just found out her ex-boyfriend of 4 years had been cheating on her. She found out in a very vicious way and immediately began questioning everything she knew about love and relationships, not to mention her sanity. I usually post the Ask B. letters, so I filed it away to do just that with my advice on her situation. I emailed her back telling her that I'd answer in a post this week, but yesterday, I got a follow up email from Sandra. Sadly, she had to face facts and go out to get tested and while she never imagined she'd turn up with an STI, she had. And a "bad" one. The kind that doesn't go away with a pill. A young woman, who is careful in her sexual experiences, especially in comparison to other women I know who are very liberal with their adventures, is now plagued with an STI that she will have to live with for the rest of her life. On top of that, yet another woman who thought she was in a monogamous relationship was betrayed and left with a very unwanted gift in it's wake.
Sandra and I exchanged emails throughout the day, me trying to give advice privately (since the topic just seemed like it should be dealt with that way), and Sandra telling me her story. There were many things that shocked and saddened me about her situation, but as I read and re-read her emails, my interest was flagged by something specific. Sandra noted, as she configured the possibility of contracting the STI from one of her past two partners, that she'd gone to her OB/GYN every year and had the required screenings. How could this have been missed along the way? Apparently, in many states, including New York, they don't do a full STI/STD screening when you come in for your check ups, pap smears, etc. Nor do they automatically screen for HIV/AIDS or Herpes when you get blood work done. The only time you are automatically screened is when you donate blood. This may be common knowledge to some, but I have found people are usually shocked to find out that doctors don't actually screen during routine visits. Even when Sandra asked for full screenings, they tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, and that's it. Nothing else. I got blood work done several months ago and I dumbly assumed I'd been tested for HIV/AIDS. I was shocked to read about the NY confidentiality laws that enable that information from being released. I've been tested since then and when I asked for a full screening, I added that I wanted to literally get tested for every virus under the sun, even the flu. It seems we have to protect ourselves in more ways than the obvious.
It's all scary, yeah, I get that. I know too many people who are afraid to get tested, would rather stay in the dark versus know the unknown. It's a ridiculous logic, one that is equally dangerous. And it's sad. Sad that there are so many holes in the equations, in the relationships and in the testing methods of doctors. I sincerely hope it all changes. And I'm sad for Sandra and all the other women out there, but even more sad that men care so little about themselves and us to be monogamous, which is probably a stretch these days. How about just being safe when they sleep with people, period. I understand if you don't care much for your own life, but how about the life of someone else? Guys, get tested and be safe. Ladies protect yourself no matter what the cost. Not doing so could cost you far more.
That bitch stole my line,