STDs in an Ideal World

Sexually transmitted diseases, for me, are the top argument against nonmonogamous lifestyles. Hands down. Most other arguments are based on morals, religion, and social constructs that I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with, or which I find don’t apply to me, or which are outright misogynistic and stupid.

But, STDs, that’s real. They are an unquestionably valid concern: Even if you wear a condom every time with every partner, there are some STDs, including incurable ones, that can still be contracted (much slimmer odds, though). STDs that make you more prone to contracting HIV, even. It’s a very, very scary thought.

In an ideal world, every single person would be getting tested for every known STD before participating in sexual activities with another party. Even then, though, there are false negatives, and some STDs can’t be detected until some time after they’ve been contracted (at least 3 months for HIV). In an ideal world, people would remain abstinent long enough for the test results to be reliable, but now we’re relying heavily on a lot of thought-out, planned steps in the face of sexual desire, and we all know that the balance often tips such that desire gets the best of us.

Keeping with the “ideal world” theme, I think that an ideal world would also exist with much less stigmatization of people with STDs as well. I am a firm believer that the fear of finding out that one has an STD, the fear of knowing, is a fear that keeps many, many people from going and getting tested. If STDs weren’t attached to sex, which our culture still thinks of as a “dirty” and “base” activity, they would just be another disease. People want to know if the tap water they were drinking gave them cancer; they don’t all want to know if the sex they’ve been having (a natural and expected human behavior) gave them an STD, because of the heavy load of guilt that would come along with finding out that their actions gave them “that” kind of disease.

Clearly, my ideal world isn’t the same as that of others’. While this remains a valid argument against nonmonogamy, though, I feel the need to point out one thing:

The tendency to assume monogamy in a relationship is very, very dangerous. Statistics and experience show: people cheat. It happens. And because people have such a negative association with cheating (because we are “supposed” to be monogamous), people who claim to be monogamous hide their sexual partners from one another (or at least from the “primary” one), putting one, both, or more partners unwittingly in danger. If, for example, you decide to cheat on your partner, you’re not just deciding to take that risk for yourself; you risk your partner’s health as well, because you could catch and pass an STD to them. A risk they haven’t had a chance to say yes or no to. They don’t even know that their health is in danger, because your desire to maintain a monogamous front causes you to hide it from them.

It’s sick. I would like to hope that people who do this at least ask the new sexual partners to get tested first, but I know that this is often not the case. If we were more accepting of the fact that humans (not all, but at least some) are “fallible” when it comes to monogamy, we’d probably be a lot more open to admitting the need to get tested when a “mono-fail” happens.

I like to think so, anyway.

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  1. I really like this post. Read it today at work and then again now and it is quite well balanced I think.
    It is interesting talking about personal responsibility… and where it is today?
    I cant talk though because I hid HSV from two partners, one planned and one not so due to lust etc. Luckily I woke up and worked out that responsibility is so very important when it comes to our sexuality…in so many ways. Just wish someone with some power would listen to us and push for what both you and I on our separate but similar paths consider the best road for human sexuality to travel going forward.

    May I link you on my site?

    • You can talk about it; just because you made that mistake in the past doesn’t shut you up. Former smokers are allowed to talk about the negative effects of smoking.

      The last time I got tested, and was really worried that I would come out positive, I realized just how much it would change my life. It’s so hard to share that information given all the stigma attached to it, and the shame one carries as well. I realized just how “sex negative” a person could become if that happened to them.

      Link away, my friend. Happy to have you here. 🙂


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