A few days ago, I posted a story about a public service video targeting older people, who are among the fastest-growing population being infected with HIV and other STDs. That group has its own challenges and stigmas to work around that have hindered them from getting tested in the first place, then receiving the treatment they need to preserve their health.
There’s another segment of the population, however, who’s getting busy on the regular and need to get on board with regular STD screening: women in monogamous relationships. I know plenty of happily married ladies and gals in long-term twosomes think they left that world behind, those routine visits to the clinic or the doctor to be checked. They’re par for the course when you’re single.
But when your guard is down and you’ve been on the lam from regular testing for as long as you’ve been half of a faithful couple, you get lulled into a false sense of comfort that can be dangerous.
I’m not saying your man is cheating, Mrs. Off-the-Market, or that your significant other is stepping out, Miss Technically-Single-But-Still-Taken. Far be it from me to throw any relationship into the quagmire of probable infidelity. But the fact, quiet as it may be kept, is that things happen. Maybe your dude hasn’t been tested in a long time and, as we know, not everything comes up as immediately as we’d hope that it would. Men’s Health did a survey around this time in 2011 and found out that 69 percent of its readers hadn’t been checked for any STD within the last year and 42 percent said they’d never been. Because they hadn’t really thought about it. At all. Ever. Well, that’s just a little terrifying, isn’t it?
Not that the good fellas over at Men’s Health represent a substantial portion of the male population, but they do digitally embody the pervasive mindset that monogamy pushes testing to the back of the agenda. But if you just so happen to be with one of these dudes who’s never even thought about being tested, you best to look out for yourself, even if he won’t do himself the favor. Syphilis is scary and chlamydia is too, but HPV is wreaking havoc on reproductive organs, gonorrhea is becoming resistant to treatment, and there are almost as many folks walking around with latent cases of herpes as there are registered voters. (OK, that’s an exaggeration but dangit, it’s a lot.)
Then, of course, there’s always the possibility, as much as no one wants to believe it, that a slip-up in better judgment on his part may have put you at unsuspecting risk. It’s no insult to him to be tested. It’s just quiet precaution.
All I’m saying is this: I’ve heard lots of women heave sighs of relief about “not having to worry about that anymore,” and you can think that if you want to. But I’d much rather find out something is awry in an effort at proactivity than be forced to scramble for treatment after unwittingly carrying around a nasty infection for Lord only knows how long. Every year, 19 million new cases of infections are reported. It doesn’t take a concerted effort to ask your doctor to slip an STD screening into the rundown for your annual physical. My doctor casually suggested it to me a few weeks ago and I was happy she did. That’s her job. You know, just in case.
Your man doesn’t even have to know. But it’s better to be safe than really, really sorry.
Do you think the media and the medical field do enough to empower women in committed relationships to be tested?
Image via Lucy Reynell/Flickr
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