The health center at my university is pretty awesome.
It provides free STI testing days throughout the year. Instead of making an appointment, students and non-students alike can just walk in, check in, and wait their turn, as it's run on a first-come, first-served basis. This particular event was for rapid HIV testing, where HIV results are given within just 10-15 minutes.
I visit my gynecologist annually, but I've never gone specifically to get tested for STIs/HIV. I attended this event curious about what the entire process was like.
Eleven years have gone by since I first came to Scarleteen as a very frightened, very lost sixteen year-old who had nowhere else to go and was ready to give up altogether.
I don't remember now what I wrote or what I asked for. But I will never forget seeing a response from Heather which read "I believe you, and I care."
As you may know, we started our major fundraising drive for the year this month. Our goal, for the year, is to raise just over $40,000 from new donors in order to best sustain, support and grow our organization.
Since we began the drive on the 13th, you've helped us raise just over $5,000. If the donors who chose to give monthly all keep that up for the year, that will get us to $8,500 of the total funds we need. Hooray!
We sometimes deal with a tough situation in direct service: a user comes in, and reports having contracted an STI; a user who also isn't a first-time user of our site or services, and who, in a previous conversation with us about pregnancy risks, blew off also talking about STIs and safer sex and turned down help we offered to them to reduce their STI risks, not just pregnancy risks.
This is one of those things where there's no joy or pride in being right: it stinks to be right about someone getting any kind of illness and being unhappy.
Since the first time I had it inserted, the technology of the implant has changed a little bit, for the better. When it was developed, Implanon was a thin plastic rod that couldn't be seen on x-rays - so if there was a question about whether it had been placed in the right spot, there wasn't really a way to tell. The insertion device was also pretty intimidating-looking.
Nexplanon, the newer version, has fixed both of those issues.
When one person walks up to another person on the street and just starts punching them in the face, we don't call it boxing. We don't call it "unwanted boxing." We call it assault.
It occurs to me that the "we both forgot to use condoms" thing that comes up often enough is a bit like suggesting that a person forgot to wear pants.
For a whole day.
And didn't notice.
I don't celebrate most holidays, but I've always been a fan of New Year's. New Year's Day, actually, more than New Year's Eve. I relish fresh starts and new beginnings.
Patsy Niklas is someone I consider myself privileged to know in person. Until recently, she worked as the program manager for YEAH (Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS) in Melbourne, coordinating volunteer training and taking care of the organisation's social media.
Now she works with the Foundation for Young Australians on their Young People Without Borders project, helping young Australians get involved in volunteering and activism. In addition to all that, she hosts a weekly show about sex and relationships on Melbourne's youth-run radio station, SYN.