Mina Button's blog

kink and feminism and stuff…formerly known as Absinthe Cocktail.

STI Testing

I’m kind of a huge hypocrite sometimes.

I will probably never forget the summer one of my friends got chlamydia.  A guy she’d had a one-night-stand with called and let her know he’d found out he had it and said she should get tested, and she had symptoms, but she put it off all summer.  I was there the whole time, telling her it wasn’t a big deal, she should just go and get tested and get some antibiotics and it’d all be taken care of–she shouldn’t be nervous or ashamed, it was totally not something to worry about.  After some back and forth about it, she did just that and everything was fine.  
Roderick and I went and got tested this week-end, after months of putting it off.  I totally have excuses for why we didn’t do it sooner–neither of us has insurance, actual free clinics are few and far between these days, I’m afraid of needles and hate having blood drawn, I get all the safer sex supplies I want for free, etc.  But excuses are shitty and I’m really a huge hypocrite, telling other people not to be nervous or ashamed when I was, to be completely honest, petrified for no real reason other than the headache of dealing with the money end of things and making appointments and all my other neuroses about needles and things.
Fortunately, the good people of NYC TNG (a group for introducing people ages 18-35 to the BDSM scene) have a monthly party called “Get Off My Lawn!” at which there is free testing available.  I figured we would duck in, pay our admission, get tested and go home.  It turns out, because of the way the whole free-testing-in-clubs thing works (also the time it takes to process an HIV rapid test), that there was a line for testing and that it took about 30-40 minutes for each person to get tested.  I realize this sounds like I’m complaining, but actually, I didn’t mind standing in line.  While Roderick and I waited, we chatted with friends, watched a friend get suspended on the nearby stage, and generally hung out.  It was actually really fun, and a much more effective distraction from the fact that I was about to get a needle stuck in me than the average clinic waiting room is.
When it was my turn, I went in, had my blood drawn (it was not a huge amount of blood and, while I looked away from the needle, I was not super distressed by it), answered an extensive questionnaire about my sexual history, and then got my little cup and swabs for the non-blood portion of the testing.  Now, at this particular club the men’s bathroom is basically right next to the room where they do the testing.  The ladies’ room is past the (juice) bar and down a hallway in a whole different part of the club.  There is something really hilarious (to me, anyway) about having to carry your urine sample through a whole club to get it back to where it needs to go for testing.  But all in all, the whole process was fairly smooth and relatively painless*.  My HIV rapid test was negative, I’ll get the results from everything else in a few weeks via e-mail.
The thing that struck me, though, was how awesomely normal it all was.  There was no shaming, no awkwardness, we were just hanging out with our friends waiting to be tested for STIs–some of us actually in line, some just hanging out near the line to be social–joking and dancing occasionally, everyone kind of tacitly acknowledging that this was a totally normal and, in fact, cool and responsible thing to do.  It was not unlike that Girls With Slingshots storyline with the testing party, only with fewer judgey puns.  And when it was over, people just rejoined the party.  It was all a surprisingly non-intimidating experience.
*Okay, so painless is maybe an overstatement.  I had a lot of blood drawn as a kid and haven’t really had it done in a long time, so I knew there was a reason I really, really hated having blood drawn but didn’t exactly remember why.  I put it down to being afraid of needles, which I sort of am, but actually what I hate is the way my whole arm, from fingertips to shoulder, was sore the entire day after getting stuck.  From what I gather from talking to other people about it, this is not a common thing, though it does happen to some people, and while it sucks a little it was totally worth it to get this testing business over and done with and taking care of my sexual health and, indirectly, Roderick’s and Garnet’s as well.

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