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The Testing Diaries: Jacob

Do you feel anxious about the idea of getting tested for sexually transmitted infections and diseases? Some of our readers certainly do.

Some never had adequate sex-education and did not realize that sexual activity with a partner -- and not just anal or vaginal intercourse -- can pose STI risks in the first place. Some are not sure where to go for testing or how to ask for it. Others feel uncomfortable discussing STIs with a partner or potential partner. We get it: this stuff can be hard, and it is usually not the kind of thing where someone just takes us by the hand and leads us through.

This is why we're doing this series at Scarleteen. In it, some of our volunteers share their own stories of how they deal with different aspects of STI testing and reproductive healthcare.

7:10pm Before the Test:

I was going to be taking my STI test with a friend today, with the idea we would both get tested and I could've written in the style of a comedy bromance movie like "Dude. Where's My Car?"

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UK Hurdles to Emergency Contraception

from http://ecequalsbc.tumblr.com/from http://ecequalsbc.tumblr.com/It's been a few months now since Heather posted "Back Up Your Birth Control Backup Day" making it crystal clear that, despite some pretty unethical misinformation given to young people seeking it, emergency contraception in the US is totally legal to sell to people 17+ without prescription.

It was few days later over here in the UK that I read a blog-post from a student in London that she had been refused emergency contraception, but not because of her age: 

I went to a Boots pharmacy which said on the door come here for emergency contraception. So I went in and asked and the woman pharmacist told me that due to her religious beliefs she was unable to serve me the morning after pill.

Which had me asking myself what the law actually is in the UK.

Despite not having a uterus of my own, I've still bought emergency contraception with a partner and would appreciate knowing. After doing a bit of research, and with some help from the wonderful Dr. Petra Boyn

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Wordbusting in Sex Ed debates! - Little words

There has been an increasing level of organisation and activity in the UK from politicians and pressure groups who are against comprehensive sex education, even lobbying against the basics like teaching body parts to primary school children and ever more increasingly speaking about abstinence. The tactics are versions of what US sex educators have been battling against for a while.

Recently, Nadine Dorries, the member of parliament who represents my area of the UK, has become a main figurehead for the trend, and has come across relatively successfully on TV debates given how extreme the implications of the policies she proposes really are.

What really got my attention was how familiar to me the language she uses was to me. She spoke about sexualisation, empowerment, focusing more on relationships, and of course abstinence and so on, which apart from the word abstinence itself sounded very much like plenty of feminists and pro-sex activists. So I've begun to think about what these word

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I feel dirty and irresponsible because of genital herpes

fairies asks:

I'm 20 and have been with my partner for about two and a half years. We have a great relationship and are happy together. However, two years ago, when we first started sleeping together, I contracted genital herpes, even though we used condoms. I was a virgin before I slept with him so I knew it had come from him. I was angry and upset but he kept telling me he had tested clean at his last STI check and couldn't understand that he must have it. When we went to the GUM clinic (together) they confirmed that I had herpes but told me that they don't test for herpes unless there are symptoms present. Therefore when my boyfriend had his previous check-up (symptom free) he tested clean for everything they test for and then went on to sleep with me. My boyfriend was upset that I was blaming him and was tested again for everything they test for to prove to me he wasn't lying when he told me he was clean. He was negative for everything they tested him for....except like last time, they didn't test for Herpes and told him they didn't test for it unless there were symptoms, which there wasn't. He says he doesn't remember ever having symptoms hence why he's never had a physical check for it. I KNOW I didn't do anything wrong, and neither did my boyfriend, but I feel so bad about myself. I feel like I should have done something before we slept together, but I don't know what. I asked him to make sure he was clean: he did. We had no idea that they didn't do standard tests for herpes.

How do I stop feeling dirty and like I was irresponsible?

UK "Repeat" Abortion Rate for Teens Increases: What Does It Mean and What Can We Do?

Originally written for The Guardian, condensed version can be seen there.

In 2008, over 5,000 UK women under the age of 20 had an abortion that was not their first. As was made clear by the alarmist headlines following the publication of those numbers, this is a big concern for the public.

A woman’s reproductive life often spans 30+ years. Around 1/2 of all pregnancies in the US and UK are unplanned. Contraception isn’t used or used properly. It fails sometimes even in perfect use. Female fertility peaks between the ages of 19 and 24: the reason we tend to see the most abortions (and pregnancies) in that group is because it is the most fertile group having the most sex. (Piccinino, LJ, Mosher, WD. Trends in contraceptive method use in the United States: 1982-1994. 1998. Family Planning Perspectives. Vol. 30(1): 4-10 & 6, Table 1) The UK teen pregnancy rate is the highest in Western Europe: six times higher than the Netherlands, nearly three times higher than France and more than twice

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Spotlight on Scarleteen: Jacob

This Spotlight on Scarleteen interview features the one and only Jacob! Also known as PenguinBoy on the message boards, Jacob is an engineering student living in Leeds, UK. A big influence on his identity, both at the site as well as in person, is his rejection of labels. (You’ll hear more about this soon!) At Scarleteen, Jacob puts his diverse background to use by offering an introspective take on topics such as sexual orientation and relationships, while also being one of the few male volunteers at the site.

Currently taking a break from his studies, Jacob is a Jack(ob)-of-all-trades who manages to fit volunteering into his busy schedule, which includes recently having worked in the neonatal ICU and maternity area of a hospital, regularly creating art work and graphic design commissions, teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees, writing poetry­ and hanging out with his beloved friends. (Of course, this is to be expected from someone who is such an open, welcoming frie

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