The HPV episode is still inspiring some pretty great listener mail. Here is another note from a thoughtful listener:
– Gavin mentioned that it's the obligation of someone who has an STI to share that information and while I wholeheartedly agree with that, I think that it's more important to take control of the situation. What I mean by that is don't rely on someone else to bring up the topic as there people who feel uncomfortable talking about the subject, especially if they have an STI. What I do is always bring it up; if you feel that there's going to be an intimate relationship occurring and the topic hasn't been broached yet ask. Usually by date 2 I bring it up and say, “I was tested 3 months ago and was clean and get tested every 6 months regardless of whether I'm in a relationship or not.” Usually this makes the date comfortable and they'll bring up when the last time they've been tested was, if they don't then you ask. I've found that you cannot rely on someone else to bring up the topic and it's my obligation to provide for my and my partners' safety rather than rely on someone who has the infection to bring it up. I've also shared, or asked for, a copy of someone's most recent test results to prove mine or their STI-free nature.
– Most of your discussion surrounded the topic of staying away from STIs, however through our discussion we talked to a couple of poly people who have very successful poly relationships while having an STI by being upfront about it and managing the STI through various forms of barriers and communication. We found it very important to note at the end of our discussion that while STIs suck they are a part of life and sexual interactions; even if you are protecting yourself you can still contract it (I know you touched on this as well). However, if you do contract an STI it's not the end of the world. I mean herpes can't always be tested for, if you don't have an outbreak there's no way to test if you have herpes. I've talked to a couple of medical professionals and they've confirmed that you could have herpes and could pass it on to someone and never know that you've done so because you've never had an outbreak, which yes is frightening, but by no means the end of the world (CDC says that 81% of HSV-2 were asymptomatic or unrecognised, but can still be passed on). I feel like there should always be a discussion of how to have a successful poly relationship while having an STI because they can be done ethically, carefully, and successfully.
I remember hearing about a study that said if you have had over 20 sexually partners in your life there's a 95% chance that you've contracted herpes (I've been looking for the study online but can't seem to find it, if I do I'll pass it along to you) and 1 in 2 individuals between the ages of 40-50 have herpes. There's almost a better chance that someone has herpes than doesn't, even if the test comes up negative and while scary, it's important to know that you can have a successful poly relationship with an STI.
Hope you had a good weekend.
Thanks for writing in, B.K.! Your note at about number of partners the end of your letter brings to mind the whole numbers game that is played in my head. I've always been a little self conscious about letting my ‘number' get too high. Sounds like show topic fodder.