“I can’t believe this is happening. He said he didn’t have anything… he said he was clean!” This is a sentence that I’ve heard too many times doing prevention work in public health. As each person was told of their status – whether it was HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, or any other STD, it’s all part of the same conversation – I wondered why just asking the question was good enough evidence to have unprotected sex with someone.
Here is a scenario to think about: You meet a nice guy/girl at the bar and you two hit it off, everything seems to be going great. After an evening of conversation and great connecting, you realize you could get laid tonight. As fate turns out, you were right and you two end up back at your place. Kissing, petting, and some good groping is happening when you confidently lean over and quietly ask “Are you clean?” “Totally – I don’t have anything,” is the response given. You look at the drawer where the safe sex supplies are kept and think “He/she said he/she is clean. I’ll be ok.”
You give in to temptation based upon someone’s word – someone you don’t know.
Why does this idea of taking someone’s word have so much power? I’m not saying we shouldn’t trust people. I’m just curious as to why such a risk would be taken without knowing the actual truth. Someone’s perception of truth is typically not the actual truth.
“Are you clean?” “Totally – I don’t have anything.” These are two very vague ways to convey important information. If you end up with a burning sensation (or something worse) on your genitals, is it their fault or your fault?
Blame, typically, gets placed on them, because if they were honest with you, you wouldn’t have had unprotected sex, right?
I say the blame goes on both of you:
You let someone else have access to your body unprotected. You both chose to not use protection. You can change. You can’t blame someone for not offering up information when you don’t require the information to be given. We all have choices. They may make or break a night of sex, but choices are available. Always ask follow up questions: “When was the last time you had unprotected sex?;” “When was the last time you were tested?;” “How often do you get tested?;” “What do you get tested for?;” and “Tell me your HIV and STD status.” These are all great questions to consider and important answers to know.
Remember, if they are going to freely have unprotected sex with you, think of who else have they had unprotected sex with. The question I leave you with is,
“Which choice will you make?”