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Welcome to the The Polyamorous Misanthrope, in which myself, the Goddess of Java, or some guest columnist will rant, rave and otherwise edify on some poly subject.   If you have an idea for a column or a rant on spike, contact me and we'll talk it over.   For past articles, check out the Archive .

How about a sense of proportion?

"Honey, I've just been tested and I found out I have a curable STD. You should go to the doctor's office and get yourself checked out."

Quick, what's your reaction?

If it is not something along the lines of, "Auugggh cooties, leprosy, howcouldyouDOthistome!?!", you're in the minority.

There's a stigma attached to someone having an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) and I find it a little illogical. I didn't used to. I mean, my God did I share it! Then I did some research.

Back about a year ago, I had strep throat. I thought it was just a sore throat. It wasn't until I broke out in hives (meaning that yes, this had progressed to scarlet fever), that I got the throat culture done. Complications from untreated strep aren't pleasant, and can even kill you. The disease is contagious with intimate and even not so intimate contact. Even so, the disease can be treated well into the stages where complications arise. Ten days of penicillin and I was good to go.

When I told my wife, "Honey, I've got strep, and since you've had a cold and a sore throat, it would be a good idea if you went to the doctor to get a throat culture.", her reaction was not "Auugggh cooties, leprosy, howcouldyouDOthistome!?!"

Nope, she didn't really like going to the doctor or taking antibiotics or any of that, but there was no heavy emotive response. And this was with a disease that has an analogous risk to many STDs and is more life threatening than many.

I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of STDs here, and I am certainly not trying to say that you shouldn't protect yourself and your partners. Quite the opposite. There really are diseases out there that can kill you or play havoc with your sex life. The thing is, most are treatable, especially if caught in time.

My own recommendation is to have some sort of routine STD testing schedule -- once every few months (3-6 is usual), or when you add a new partner. There are several ways to do this. You can go to your GP if you like. Some people don't feel entirely comfortable doing this, and it's understandable. Another option is to go to Planned Parenthood. The link provided is a link to a search engine where you can enter your zip code and find the closest PP to you. I've had good experiences with PP, myself. They charge on a sliding scale and often take insurance. They're very careful about confidentiality. Other organizations offer testing, and you can find one local to you by looking it up in the yellow pages. Some are free or offer testing on a sliding scale, other are not.

I do strongly encourage safer sex practices. The link is to a Planned Parenthood article that discusses the subject pretty well, and does an excellent job of discussing a range of sexual activities that can increase both pleasure and safety.

But, let's all drop the cootie response, 'kay? Many STDs, while certainly serious, do not deserve a stigma. After all a stigma is a good way to discourage treatment, and none of us want that!

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