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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Sex, lies and misnomers

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Author Topic: Sex, lies and misnomers
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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From this recent report:

"Still, about half of women in the U.S. have never discussed HIV/AIDS or any other STD with their doctor, according to the survey. Fifteen percent say they have deliberately withheld information about their sexual health from their doctors, and 14 percent said their doctor didn't need to know such information. "

"Nearly 90 percent said they were embarrassed to discuss sexual health issues with their partner."

"In other findings, up to 64 percent of women said they had been tested for HIV or other STDs. However, 15 percent to 20 percent (of those) incorrectly believed that such testing was a routine part of their gynecological examination. For example, 40 percent of women surveyed said the Pap smear, which tests for abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer, also tests for STDs, and nearly 10 percent believed it was a test for HIV/AIDS or pregnancy."

This is only one of many surveys and studies showing these sorts of things.

The truth is, that even at the boards, when we've got users or their partners reporting they've been testing regularly we unfortunately have good reason to believe a lot of them are either lying outright, or are assuming they HAVE been tested without ever asking their doctors for tests. And sadly, I think it's sound to assume that we're likely looking at even higher numbers with young people, most of whom don't have their own private doctors and don't go to sexual health clinics on their own.

We can also -- again, unfortunately -- safely assume that it's likely the majority of people aren't honest with their partners about their sexual or sexual health history.

So, how do we deal with that as a sexually active people? Obviously, we can take steps to take care of ourselves if we aren't already, by getting tested, by being honest with our partners and doctors, by going to expressly get STI tests at sexual health clinnics, by saying to hell with whatever shame we might feel.

But it's trickier when it's not about us, but about friends or our own sex partners. How do we deal with knowing that it's a big possibility that a new partner may be lying about their sexual history? And what do these realities do to the clear implicit trust most of us have with people we're in love -- and in bed -- with?

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 06-26-2003).]


Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
i am a cat
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
"Nearly 90 percent said they were embarrassed to discuss sexual health issues with their partner."

"In other findings, up to 64 percent of women said they had been tested for HIV or other STDs. However, 15 percent to 20 percent (of those) incorrectly believed that such testing was a routine part of their gynecological examination. For example, 40 percent of women surveyed said the Pap smear, which tests for abnormal cells that can lead to cervical cancer, also tests for STDs, and nearly 10 percent believed it was a test for HIV/AIDS or pregnancy."


Wow. That is some SCARY stuff right there.

Stats like these make me realize how lucky I am to have access to sexual health information and that I'm not afraid to ask questions about my body. I am lucky that I am learning more and more as time goes on. And I am EXTREMELY lucky to be in a relationship in which we can and do openly talk about these things. Otherwise, I wouldn't be in a relationship at all.

But I realize that not all people are so well-informed, and that is a very scary thing. That's why I think activism is important. Getting out there in some way and trying to help people so that they are armed with info/resources and are better prepared to make their own decisions. It's impossible to reach everybody, but as long as you reach *somebody*, the effort is well worth it.

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"Why should I have to be a skinny pencil?
I'd rather be a happy magic marker."

- Natalie on "Facts of Life"


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MarvellousPurple
Activist
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Wait, I think I'm a statistic.

I thought the Pap smear did test for some STDs, as long as you asked to be tested.

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...you mean the files are in the computer?!?


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Pap smears test for cervical cell abnormalities. While those abnormalities can *signal* a possible STD or STI, a pap all by itself isn't an STD/STI test.

If, however, Purple, you are ASKING, as you say, for STI screenings, then your doctor may be using what's swabbed from your Pap for further tests. To make sure, just be sure to ask clearly for a full STD and STI screening (so, blood and urine tests will also be involved -- if they aren't, there's your first clue you aren't getting what you're asking for).

Hope that makes sense of it for you.


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Laurae
Activist
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I guess I can join the statistic club too... Not that that is good of course but, my mom doesn't need to know some stuff, and my doctor says that a parent must be present for all exams. AND there is no Planned Parenthood Clinic near me... ugh.

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Laurae

"Music is essentially useless, as life is." George Santayana (1863 - 1952)


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Ecofem
Activist
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I don't know about your health care provider, but until I'm 23 or finish college, my health care is provided by the military (my parents are retired from the army). Of course, it is fabulous because it is free, even if it unfortunately means strict guidelines and often seeing doctors once and then never again-- the military was a HMO before the controversial mainstream shift to HMOs.

Anyhow, if by chance you are under military health care-- they have this rule that you have to be accompanied by a guardian if you're under 18. BUT this is not always the case (this was a big deal for me in high school since I did not want to share all the details of my bodily functions when my mom was standing there-- and she actually didn't want to know either) because, for example, if you go to "family practice" you do need a parent present, but if you go to "adolescent medicine" or the "well women clinics" too I think (where they deal with lots of these issues) you do _not_ have to have a guardian present. I'm not sure about confidentially issues though.

So, this probably totally doesn't apply to you, but if it does be sure to check out your options. You may not have much choice if the only person you can see is a family doctor, but if that's not the case, you might try to check out other options and guidelines the hospital and doctors have.

At the same time, your mom may be more sympathetic about hearing about medical stuff than you think (and honesty is always crucial in doctor's appointments!) If you're worried about her finding out about and then punishing you for sexual activity or something like smoking or drinking, you might want to rethink if the possible parental consequences are worth the risk. Then again, as I said, chances are your parents might be more understanding than you think, especially if it means, say, getting birth control to prevent a pregnancy versus obtaining emergency contraception or dealing with an unwanted pregnacy...

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"Tear up the cloak of indifference that you have wrapped around your hearts! Make up your minds before it is too late!" ~Sophie Scholl

[This message has been edited by Ecofem (edited 07-03-2003).]


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i am a cat
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Hey Laurae,

I know it might feel kind of uncomfortable to discuss your sexual health with your mom, but my mom always said that she'd rather know that I was having sex and put me on the pill/give me condoms rather than not know about it and have me get pregnant or pick up a disease.

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"Why should I have to be a skinny pencil?
I'd rather be a happy magic marker."

- Natalie on "Facts of Life"


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MarvellousPurple
Activist
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Miz S-

thanks for setting me straight I was just wondering because if the Pap smear hadn't tested for some things (that aren't tested for with urine or blood), I wasn't sure what would have and I was definitely tested for STDs--I got results and everything.

So, now another question. Is the blood test just for HIV, or is there something else? I read that Herpes could be tested for by blood, but that they can't really distinguish it from the thing that chicken pox leaves behind (I can't think of the word, having severe brain farts) in the blood, so they had to have an open sore for Herpes testing.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. While it's certainly womens' responsibility to be in charge of their sexual health, I think it might help if doctors were a little more clear in what everything is for, and brought up STD testing explicitly. It may make some women more comfortable if the professional mentions it first.

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...you mean the files are in the computer?!?


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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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As to your last statement, you're not going to hear me disagreeing there.

In fact, more than one health clinic I've frequented in my life has gotten a long, tired (but friendly) lecture from me on doctors not asking if folks want or need testing or assuming they don't, especially with clinics that have big youth and non-english populations, where lack of knowledge and language can be huge barriers to getting tested for what one needs.

One clinic once forgot to ask me a second time after the last lecture if I'd had new risks or wanted testing, but remembered as a clinician elbowed the doctor grumbling "That's the sex educator, ask her about testing." Heh.

So, it never hurts to talk to a doctor or clinic about studies like these in a friendly way. You might help somebody out a ton down the line in doing so.

In terms of the blood test, blood tests, to my knowledge, are done for HIV, but testing for cytomegalovirus, hepatitis and syphilis are also tested via blood tests. You can test the blood for Herpes as well, though like any other test for herpes, without sores, it's not very accurate.


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