Jun 142013

sony-dsc-3“Alyssa, Come here!”

A text from my friend’s recent one night stand read, “Do you have an STD?”, followed by a series of photos of his penis with red, open sores on it. This is definitely an awkward way to start the STI/STD convo.

“I’m a whore,” she cried.

I was horrified that my friend believed she was a whore because she may have contracted Herpes. He had never said he had tested positive for Herpes or Genital Warts nor had he ask her to get tested before they had sex. But afterward, he accused her of spreading herpes and called harassing her for several days.

Herpes is, in fact, very common with 50-80% of Americans having oral herpes and 1 out 6 people having gental herpes in the U.S. Since Herpes and HPV can be contracted through skin to skin contact, using a condom does not completely protect you. Also, once you develop symptoms, don’t be so quick to blame your current partner. In a previous post, we wrote how in most cases of HPV our bodies successfully keep the virus in check so it can be years or even decades before symptoms. In the case of Herpes, Dr. Marc F. Hirsch advises via Healthtap that “HSV-2 can be dormant and suddenly break out with physical or emotional stress. You might have had it before recent partner”. So the only smart thing to do was to get tested. After a couple days of frantically searching, we found a clinic that was just right – SF City Clinic.

Now, we didn’t account for the 3-hour wait time which included getting a number, talking to a counselor about her risk, peeing into a cup to test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, getting her blood drawn for Syphilis and Herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2), and receiving a rapid test for HIV (adding another 20 minutes in wait time for her result). Did I mention the guilt and shame in the room was almost tangible. So, what was the final result you ask? As advised by the nurse, she sent him a screenshot of her negative test results.

Needless to say, navigating the STI/STD clinic search can be nerve wracking and very personal. It’s kind of like the dating world of Match.com or OkCupid, right? You don’t just go on a date with anyone. You want to be attracted and the person has to be available to you.

So, here are 3 steps to find the perfect testing clinic as you would your hot date:

Step 1: Decide if it’s Dating Material: What are the hours? Does it get good reviews? Does it make you pay or can you use your insurance? Is it on your way home or work? Does the clinic cater to women, MSM, transgender? Do your research. Otherwise, it’s like you trying to use a hook-up app like Grindr or Bang With Friends to find a committed long term relationship. You will leave feeling unsatisfied and frustrated because it doesn’t offer what you need. To simplify this process, use the CDC STI/STD clinic locator or AIDS.gov clinic locator start your search.

Step 2: Go On the First Date: Does it make you feel comfortable? Did you have a good conversation with the testing counselors? Were they considerate of your time? If you’re shy, go on a double date by bringing a friend you can trust who can ease any anxiety and take off some of the pressure. Schedule enough time so you’re not forced to skip work or ditch plans. If the environment or people make you feel uneasy then you know not to go back the next time. It is sort of like that date who only talks about themselves or picks the one restaurant you absolutely hate.

Step 3: Think About How the Date Ended. How fast did you get an email or phone call with your result? Did you feel like you could be yourself and ask questions? How easy was the testing process? Be sure you leave knowing what you got tested for, in what form you’ll receive the results, and how fast you’ll receive them. If you liked it enough and felt comfortable, go on that second date.

Getting tested can give you a sense of pride, and based on my personal experience can certainly give you peace of mind. So, while it can be a pain, it may save you.

And, of course, if it’s HIV, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea, remember you can scratch the whole clinic process and do it in the comfort and privacy of your own home with our easy delivery service at BeforeWeDo.

Why is there such a strong sense of shame felt in clinics?