Wednesday, April 3, 2013
OMG! GYT, BFF.
“Down there? I haven’t been down there since 1953. And no, it had nothing to with Eisenhower.”
This essential sums up my approach to getting tested for STIs/ going to the doctor in general. It’s willful ignorance, really. Do I honestly want to know what’s down there? I totally should. I get it, I volunteer at Planned Parenthood, which is, like, y’know, a huge proponent of getting yourself tested and knowing what’s what with yer “down there”… and… yeah.
I don’t have a great excuse. But you know… I’m really busy; I’m poor and can’t afford the co-pay; my dogs need to be let out; I have homework; getting tested is weird; but really I don’t want to know; but really, I’m fine. Any of these sound familiar?
I’m a champion of making excuses to avoid getting preventative anything done.
April is Get Yourself Tested month, and Planned Parenthood has literally dozens of ways to get information, literally get yourself tested (do as I do, and get thee to a health center!) and get treatment if something does come up.
Many of our services are free or low cost to people who qualify as income eligible, via the Family Planning Benefit Program. Even better, dudes can get tested too, so there goes that excuse of “dunno where to go do that thing at the place.”
Everybody has time for that. Srsly tho.
It’s not exactly a secret that half of adult Americans will get an STI before they’re 25. An estimated three million Americans are infected with chlamydia every year; roughly one in six has herpes. About 50,000 new HIV/AIDS infections occur each year, with an estimated 1.2 million people already living with HIV. Additionally, more than 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV at some point in their lives. An estimated six million new cases occur each year, with at least 20 million people already infected.
We also don’t really talk about older people, those who cannot get pregnant and eschew condoms and other forms of contraceptives, because who needs em? Well, good sirs and dames, you should, because your age bracket currently faces an increasing STI rate.
Just because you can’t have kids doesn’t mean you can’t contract something else. According to the CDC, roughly 2,550 cases of syphilis among adults ages 45 to 65 were reported in 2010, up from 900 a decade earlier. And cases of chlamydia among that group of Americans jumped to 19,600 in 2010, compared to 6,700 in 2000. To which I want to say “yes!” to getting it on, but for the love of gravity as a constant, be safe!
There’s definitely a stigma in talking about getting tested (it’s awkward!) and finding out that you may have something (I don’t know a single person who would enjoy that conversation). It’s normal, but the more we address the issue and stop making everyone feel bad about the weird things our bodies do/contract, the easier it becomes to identify, treat and prevent it. There’s no doubt that untreated STIs can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional well being. So let’s chat, and get down and get tested. PPRSR, hold me to it!
It comes down to this: getting tested means being responsible, taking care of yourself and your sex life. That’s pretty flippin’ sexy.
Some wonderful resources beyond the awesome that is Planned Parenthood:
Go Ask Alice
The STD Project
PPRSR VOX Intern