Sunday, November 18, 2007

STIs and Sexual Responsibility

We talk about safer sex, we talk about the risks associated with sex, we talk about the types of STIs, but what a lot of people don't talk about is what happens when you have an STI and the responsibilities you have towards your partner(s). This is where I start to get a little preachy.

Having sex is an enormous responsibility; one that most people take too lightly. There are a lot of risks: physical, emotional, and financial. Sex is a lot of fun, but we have to be adults about it. We have to take responsibility for our actions.

This means getting tested regularly and informing your partner(s) of your STI status before the clothes ever come off.

Lets keep in mind though that not all STIs are tested for and some (HPV in men) don't even have tests. So testing is not enough. Inspecting one's genitals and anus regularly is also a must. This doesn't have to be a downer. It is easy enough to inspect yourself when you masturbate and also when you clean yourself in the shower. You should know exactly how your genitals and anus feel so you know if there are any new bumps or sores. It is very important to know your body and to be aware of changes in it. Does it burn when you pee? Well for heaven's sake go to the doctor!

So what if you catch an STI?

If it is something curable like chlamydia, syphilis, or gonorrhea then it is important that you stop having sex. Why would you want to give anything that uncomfortable to someone who is giving you a lot of pleasure? Get treated and talk to anyone you've slept with recently to let them know that you have it and that they should go get tested. Before you start having sex again make sure that both you and your partner are cured.

If you contract herpes which will stay with you for the rest of your life or HPV which will be around for a couple years you need to tell anyone you are considering becoming sexually intimate with. Both of these are contagious even if you do not have warts or sores. Let the other person decide whether or not they want to take the risk. There is a good chance that many may reject you because of your STI, but that is something that you will just have to deal with. It isn't easy, but that does not mean it is ever ok for you to not tell someone you have it. I don't care if you've had sex with someone else and they never contracted it from you. This does not mean that you are not contagious. Be careful and honest and use protection. Keep in mind that even if both you and your partner have herpes or HPV you can continue to pass it to each other and make it worse.

If you contract HIV/AIDS I highly discourage any sort of casual sex. If you do choose to be sexually active that is a big decision that will have to be the responsibility of both you and your partner. Keeping in mind that even if you both have HIV you can continue to pass the virus to each other and put each other at further risk. Always use protection and I recommend being in a long term trusting relationship.

The Golden Rule is applicable to all of life including sex. Treat others the way you would want to be treated and the world will be a much happier, healthier place.

No comments: