Opinions from straight and queer people. STD testing -- a big production?

There’s a pit thread going on now during which a poster mentioned that a friend of hers got tested and that it was a big trauma for everyone.

I just don’t get that. I get tested pretty much every time I go to the doctor (maybe 2-3 times a year) and I believe the same is true for all my queer friends. It’s not a trauma and I do it as a matter of course, as a basic part of my safer sex practices.

Is getting tested for HIV and other STDs really such a major, unusual event for people? And why?

Well, it’s certainly not something my Gyno does routinely, and it’s not a subject he’s ever asked me about. I was tested at the start and end of both of my pregnancies, but if I wanted a test now I would have to specifically ask for one. I’ve never done that, so I don’t know how easy or difficult it would be to arrange. The only other time I was tested was once during college, at Planned Parenthood. That was free, easy, and not at all a big deal.

I don’t attend a doc regularly anymore though, so perhaps people who see a GP routinely, as you seem to, will have had different experiences.

Never thought of it as a big deal, get it every year with my physical from the naval docs [dependent medical - tricare]

Is actually routine for me, because mrAru worked as a volunteer EMT in VA Beach 3 so was exposed to blood. Navy tested him each 6 months, and me annually. I have also had surgery several times since 1980 with donor blood. It is just easy to test for the whole package of STDs than decide which ones to do.

Well, I’m a straight female and while it’s no big deal for me to get tested, people give me funny looks when I mention it.

Also, it’s a pain in the ass and expensive now that I’m uninsured and can’t use Student Health! I requested the regular gonorrhea and chlaymidia (I just spent at least five minutes spelling and respelling those; I refuse to look them up) from this new gynecologist I saw in August, and he gave me a weird look about it! I understand asking if there’s a reason you think you migth have one, but if you say “No, just being responsible”, knowing that in women they can be symptom-free, I shouldn’t et a funny look! And it was like $200 in lab fees for them! Also, when I asked for a HIV test, he told me that he’d do one if I wanted, but that it would be real expensive so I should check out county health or whatever.

Well, I call the Health Department and they say they charge on a sliding scale by income, and they couldn’t tell me how much it would be but it could be up to $115. So I called Planned Parenthood and they were much friendlier and charged a flat rate, $30.

But what I thought was odd was, when I showed up at a lunch thing late because I’d had to go get my results, and people asked where I’d been and I told them, there was this weird silence and everybody looked down at their napkin! I guess I got used to the college crowd, who would have all nodded and probably asked where I went and did it cost anything and you know they keep forgetting to make an appointment… but these were friends and (I assume mostly) straight young professionals, and it’s not like I phrased it in any indelicate manner.

I’m really looking forward to other responses here, because I was sort of weirded out by the experience. Since I’ve been sexually active I’ve always gotten the relevant tests when you’re supposed to get them, and I’ve certainly never caught anything. I thought everybody got tested regularly these days?

In my wilder days it was a very big deal to go get tested because I didn’t usually do it unless I thought I had reason to other than just routine. I remember when it used to take two weeks to get the results. Gawd. How horrible was that? But I will say it taught me a lesson (each and every time, har har). I think I narrowly escaped.

Now that I’m engaged it is a non-issue.

I think it’s a girl thing. In my experiences with straight women, it’s a psychological trauma because saying you need an STD test means you’re slutty; it’s a moral judgment. Nice girls don’t sleep around, and STDs only happen to slutty, bad, dirty people. You might be surprised at how many straight women think this way.

I have seen this attitude even in promiscuous women who do not practice safe sex and are currently symptomatic. My sister’s friend N recently went around asking all her friends for advice because it was “itching, stinging, and burning down there.” She admitted to at least a dozen sex partners in the previous few months, most of whom she barely knew, and she rarely used condoms. No one would tell her “get an STD test” because it was mean. At my urging, my sister finally suggested it to her, and N had a hissy fit, because that meant Sis was calling her a dirty slut. This despite the fact that N freely discusses her sexual escapades and has no moral problem with casual sex.

Sis’s roommate L went to the gyno last month and was pretty much forced to undergo the routine tests that student health does for STDs. She went on and on about how she didn’t want or need them because she only has sex with people she loves. She also sees no need to use condoms with people she loves. Does she think that the love rays will zap the pathogens? No, it’s just so rude to suggest that your One True Love might be “dirty.” Turns out one of L’s True Loves gave her HPV. She’s keeping this a secret from her Current True Love, who does not use condoms, because she’s afraid he will think she’s–you guessed it–dirty and slutty.

Even some of my married friends who know they don’t have STDs (well, are 99% sure) get indignant when mandatory testing is performed when they go to renew their prescriptions for the Pill. When I say, “What’s the big deal? It’s the law where you live–everyone gets tested!”, they say, “Well, you know, it’s just so ridiculous and degrading…to think I might have an STD–crazy!” Even though they should know it’s not personal, they feel judged.

My guess is that in the queer community, most people have been able to escape or avoid this kind of programming.

I go to the ‘Skin and STDs department’ at least four times a year; anything else would just be irresponsible IMHO, and I can’t imagine anyone except for Prudie McPrudenstein getting upset about being tested. Are people worried that other people might find out they have … gulp …SEX, or what?

I probably don’t need to go quite that often but the waiting room also happens to be a great place to pick up women of questionable morals…

I too don’t quite understand why people tend to make it a big deal. It’s as if a lot of people think that if they don’t get tested, they aren’t sick–and that it’s the test that will somehow make it real. The superstitious part of us takes over, I guess. In college, I remember a (gay) guy at my job going to get his test and it was this huge deal for everyone. I always want to know as soon as possible (I guess that’s why I got an amnio that time…there was no reason to do so except that forewarned is forearmed, right?).

I don’t know if this is relevant, but at that time it was very sad for me to watch my gay co-workers and friends. It was the early-mid-90’s and so many of them seemed to have the fatalistic attitude that they were going to get AIDS and die by 30 no matter what they did, so they often didn’t do anything to prevent it. I worried about them all the time. They’re all 30 by now, so I hope they’re still around. :frowning:

As a straight girl, I agree with Q. N. Jones; STDs are things that only happen to sluts, and I can’t possibly have one because I’m not a slut, and blahblahblah.

So what’s the problem with guys? They don’t all do what they’re supposed to do, either.

Anyway, I’ve been tested fairly regularly from the time I lost my virginity until just after I had my son. Sadly, I haven’t had a need for testing since then. I miss sex.

Well, I’ve only been tested once, but even on a college campus, people reacted weirdly, like “You, HIV test? :dubious:”

But it’s something that I plan on doing every 6 months or so, regardless of sexual activity/protectedness.


What’s the big deal about it? If you’ve been having sex, you should be tested on some kind of regular basis, even if you’ve been using protection or show no symptoms, since nothing is foolproof. I talk to my friends about it and several of them seem to have the same attitude as the person Q.N. Jones mentioned, which drives me batty. I live in an area with a high prevalence of STDs, too, which, you would think, would make people inclined to take a bit more care. Nope, because of course, only dirty skanks have to have STD tests. I have wrangled with people over this. I can’t very well haul them bodily to the clinic if they won’t go, though. Get this, too–my university’s health services don’t offer STD testing. They won’t even give out condoms there. Oh, no, our pure students wouldn’t need them. Excuse me while I bang my head against the wall. At least there’s a health unit in town, which, among other things, gives out condoms in nice tidy bundles.

I had a full list of STD tests done regularly when I was in college. These days, being in a monogamous relationship, I don’t have them done unless my gyno says I should have a test run. As for making it a big deal, I can’t say that I’ve heard any of my friends talk about it recently, but then again, I doubt any of them would talk about a pap smear result or anything else as well, and I wouldn’t either. It’s a medical test, big deal.

I work at a Planned Parenthood clinic, routinely rooming patients for annual exams and infection checks. The majority of women* I see who come in for an “infection check” appointment are just testing routinely, no symptoms, maybe a partner change prompted it, maybe not. A good percentage are there due to symptoms of one kind or another.
When someone comes in for an annual exam, part of the “rooming” process is to ask if they want an STI check at the same time–ie pap only, or check for chlamydia and gonorrhea as well. We always recommend this be done with any partner change or once a year with their pap, routinely. We also ask about partner changes, symptoms, birth control and whether they need more, as well as any other stuff she wants to discuss.
I discovered after a very short period of time that many, many women, if you ask if they want a chlamydia or gonorrhea check, look horrified and tell you absolutely not–they seem to feel that you’re insinuating that either a) they’re a dirty slut, b) they’ve been cheating on their partner, or c) their partner might be cheating on them… even if they’ve had several partner changes since their last visit. Some women do want to be checked, but feel as though asking for testing is somehow dirty, or somehow makes them a slut, or as though asking means they don’t trust their current partner. I had maybe a 50/50 ratio of patients who declined free testing.
At some point I stopped asking “are you interested in an infection check today?” and started saying “for everyone who qualifies for our funding, we automatically set up an infection check standard as part of the exam along with the pap smear, is that okay?” The vast majority of women say “sure!” a few say “mmm I don’t think I really need it, but it probably wouldn’t hurt…” and I’ve yet to have anyone say “no”. It’s free anyway, and many seem relieved for not having to ask.
*I keep saying “women” and using feminine pronouns because all the men we see are there for elective STI testing or treatment, so no experience with men who are hesitant to ask for testing.

This is really worrying.

I recently saw a movie called The Gift, and one of the interviewees was going on about how heterosexuals tend to be braver about lecturing their queer friends about AIDS. The man being interviewed suggested that this is because heterosexuals aren’t as affected by the new taboo in the queer community with bringing up AIDS.

That’s part of it, I guess, but in my experience most heterosexuals don’t imagine AIDS is going to come any closer to them than their circle of friends. The few times I’ve tried to bring up issues of safe sex with monogamous, heterosexually-married women, the reaction has been nasty.

And yet, according according to the Journal of HIV/AIDS at the American National Medical Society’s library:

As someone who’s met at least a half-dozen men, officially monogamous heterosexually-married, who were cruising saunas and bathrooms, I think a large number of women are going to get a very rude awakening. These are the men most notoriously hard to reach with safe-sex messages – they don’t frequent queer organizations, and don’t pay attention to messages aimed at “gay and bisexual men.”

And while heterosexual sex accounts for only 7% of cases among men, it does happen. There are men who are sleeping around on their wives with women who won’t give a second thought to safe sex.

Their husbands aren’t going to start using a condom when they “make a mistake.” Even if they thought of it, it’d be a dead giveaway.

When I donate blood or platelets, they check for HIV at least. I don’t mind. I don’t see it as a big deal. I actually find it a relief, as in, well I guess I don’t have a deadly disease, not that I really thought that I did.

I’m bisexual, and I get a full round, including syphillis and HIV every year, plus anytime I switch partners. Well, now I’m married, so it’s once a year, but before it was like that.

Pee in a cup, two needle pokes, a couple of swabbings in the ol’ meat sock, and everything is good. I don’t get the drama at all. To me it’s a simple medical test, like getting one for anemia or something.

Yes. I keep reminding myself that not only am I bisexual, I grew up in a less conservative area than I live in now, and I had what I would consider a good sex education. The culture here is very different, although that is never an excuse. I knew any number of open queers growing up (southeastern Pennsylvania), while here (southwestern Louisiana) it is much more “underground.” I also grew up expecting all parties to a sexual encounter to protect themselves adequately. I know several female classmates of mine who are on chemical birth control yet consider that to be the solution to any possible sexual issues that might arise. Some of these women are in monogamous relationships and/or have been tested, but I was shocked at the number of them who will admit to having sex with someone whose STD status they have no idea of, without condoms. And they don’t think there’s anything amiss there!

I’ve seen this too. It’s distressing. People are still making assumptions about AIDS that may end up costing them their lives.

I’m participating in a study for diabetics, and we get complete blood work (including HIV) every six months. It’s no big deal.

But it’s so discouraging to hear all the misinformation about this subject. You’d think, after all these years, the facts would have sunk in.

Nope, no big deal at all. I asked my doctor for it myself. I was with a new boyfriend, and just wanted to make sure I was peachy keen, and I was. It’s nice to know, even if you’ve never suspected anything to begin!

And for the sake of statistics, I’m straight and female.