What Should You Do If You’re Freaking Out About STD’s And STI’s? | Facebook Walk With Reid

by Reid on August 28, 2019

What Should You Do If You’re Freaking Out About STD’s And STI’s? | Facebook Walk With Reid

Reid: Hello Facebook! Is my camera…oh, my camera is oily. I’m sorry. I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to do that. It’s just ‘coz it’s just looking weird like some Barbara Walters effects if everything all glowy. I guess maybe that’s better because we’re talking about herpes today and STI’s and STD’s and maybe we could use a little romantic filter.

Say hi wherever you’re saying hi from. It is Monday morning when we’re recording this right before the 4th of July so I have my sexual freedom t-shirt on and it’s really noisy and busy. We’ll run out of the way of this truck. So I’m going to take some side…side streets today for our walk. Hope it will be a little bit more quiet. But say hi, where you’re saying hi from? Some of you might be having a long weekend, some of you might have to go to work today. I’ve got a bunch of friends who are…have a work…work day today and then they have tomorrow off.

So if you’re in the U.S. and you’re celebrating 4th of July stuff, Happy 4th of July. And this t-shirt is from the organization called I will see Venus Pro X? http://venusplusx.org/ and so that’s their sexual freedom t-shirt that I got at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit which is coming up in about less than 30 days I think and the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit is happening right after the Sex Geek Summer Camp and it is the mad less than 30 day – for camp. So if you are somebody who is curious about coming to camp, then go to http://reidaboutsex.com/campFAQ and…..and register soon if you can because it’s going to be too late soon. It’s like we’re in that window where all the plane tickets are kind of cheap even though it’s summertime but we’re like that almost three weeks out. So start looking for tickets go to http://reidaboutsex.com/campFAQ and come to camp. We’re….we’re breaking records. We can have the most campers ever at camp this year. Hi, puppy. Hi.

And so let’s talk about STI’s and STD’s today you know sexual freedom and 4th of July ideas and just chat a little bit about what to do when you have friends or yourself who are kind of freaking out about things? And you know having feels about herpes or STI’s. So the way that I’m going to talk about this and I think I’ve talked about this before but I get emails very frequently about STI’s because a lot of people have a friend who either just tested positive for something or is dating somebody who you know just tested positive. So the first thing is to just kind of take a breath, let out some sound hooh and realize that everybody has almost everybody that I know has feels about STI’s and STD’s – Sexually Transmitted Infections, Sexually Transmitted Diseases. STI’s are kind of a lingo that CDC and everybody is using these days. It used to be STD’s. I’m not going to judge you for whichever one you use but you know let’s just normalize if you can that it’s okay to have feelings.

I, as a big old slut and as a as an educator you know I still get nervous whenever I go and get tested just because I get nervous. I also get nervous around needles and drawing my blood and stuff like that. So you know going into a clinic and getting tested I think can just be nerve-wracking to people in general. And I grew up in this culture where we have sexual shame and you know we’re bad if we have an STD you know we’re weak or something like even if you just think how we judge people around in an ablest kind of way around having pre-existing conditions or you know how we can shame people for not being able to get out of bed for whatever reason. We tend not to shame people maybe about getting colds you know you’re like uh, you run down. It’s the holidays, you party too hard or something or whatever you caught a cold you know or feel like a schoolteacher and you’re just surrounded by kids who are just you know who are just you know loaded with…with kid germs. You know we don’t shame school teachers for getting a cold, you  don’t shame a stuntman for spraining their ankle or busting a rib doing a stunt, so you know you don’t shame a snowboarder for…for twisting their ankle or hurting their arm or something. I guess maybe you do if you’re a snowboarder and you shame all the snowboarders but stop that. But like things that like life has things that happen. You know you play on the playground and you scrape your knee, that’s kind of what playing on a playground is.

So, unfortunately, we don’t have that idea or approach to sex, you know you grow up as an adults, you play sexually and intimately with people and sometimes you get chlamydia-like the great news about chlamydia is that you can go get tested, find out that you have it and then it gets….and then you can go get treated. We don’t need to shame people for the sexual equivalent of skinning your knees. Now I’m not minimizing the emotional distress and also the pain in the ass sometimes literally that having an STI can….can have and I think this is where when we’re talking about herpes and you remove the cultural shame like that we no one will want to kiss me or sleep with me because we have you know I’m having a herpes outbreak. If we remove that shame and just talk openly about herpes and talk openly that yes, some people draw the short straw on…on the herpes situation and then they will get frequent outbreaks throughout their life with really painful outbreaks. Statistically speaking, if you read the CDC’s website and some other more sciency based information, statistically speaking most people…I’m going to give you a shot a really pretty rose right there. I’m going to stop for them and smell the roses. Statistically speaking, most people who get herpes they’ll get exposed to it if they catch it because that’s also you can be exposed to something and not catch it. But if you were to catch herpes, usually your first outbreak is within two weeks of exposure and then that first outbreak is usually statistically speaking again, not everybody…Happy 4th of July America! Statistically speaking that first outbreak is the worst outbreak for a lot of people and then they might have three or four more outbreaks and then a lot of people’s systems again, not everybody tend to kind of have fewer outbreaks moving forward. So some folks will get herpes, have three or four outbreaks hopefully they’re not super painful and then the herpes kind of is more dormant in that it…you won’t have outbreaks or you’ll have them under certain conditions like if you get a lot of sunlight that for some people can trigger herpes outbreak. It seems to be very stress oriented for other folks, right? Like maybe you’re moving or you lose your job and you get an outbreak or you’re going through a divorce or something like that and you a breakup you get an outbreak.

So statistically speaking if you’re one of the lucky people, odds are in your favor that those outbreaks will become less and less over time. Again not everybody. I do have a friend who gets frequent painful outbreaks and that’s really sucky. There are some medications you can take to help try to suppress your herpes and this is all stuff you can geek out on and go to the CDC and….and I’ll give you some links but the…the big piece I want to kind of underscore is that part of the reason we have so much…so many feelings is nobody talks about this stuff openly and there’s so much shame and stigma and we’re also not taught to talk about having STD’s and STI’s in a way that’s empowering. And so for me as somebody who has herpes 1, meaning that I test positive for the herpes antibodies and now I’ve never had an outbreak that I know of so I don’t know where it’s located and you can nerd out on herpes 1 and herpes 2 which traditionally herpes 1 used to only kind of present itself or orally speaking and then herpes 2 would be more genitally or around the anus you know top and bottom herpes which is not necessarily the case anymore because as testing gets better, we have been finding and maybe it’s because herpes is mutating. Again, I’m not completely the nerd on this. I’m not a doctor nor I play on the television but we’re finding herpes 2 presenting orally you know it seems more these days and herpes 1 can present genitally. If you have one or the other, it’s less likely that you will catch the other one like these are all kinds of things you can research online but I’m letting you know because maybe your adult learning style is video and I’m just kind of role modeling it’s okay to talk about this stuff. There are plenty of people who still sleep with me and I tell everybody that I’m going to have sex with that I have herpes and because I tend to not make out with people unless we’re in you know in intimate setting where we might be having sex, I tend to tell even the people that I’m kissing that I have herpes. Not everybody every time I kiss somebody but if we’re going to make out and things are going to get super sexy, for me personally I would rather tell somebody just so they know ahead of time and scare them away then have this fast and furious make out session “ah” and then at the end be like “oh btdubs, I have herpes.”

So you know you also have to kind of figure out how you want to communicate things for people and when you start geeking out on things like herpes, what you realize is there’s a lot of social stigma and unless you have an immune compromised situation which again another reason you might want to talk to people about that you have herpes or some other STI because you know most people when they’re going to make out with you aren’t going to tell you that they have Crohn’s disease, they’re not going to tell you that they have Lyme’s disease you know and….and so like I like to have the safer sex conversations as much as I can because you know one, you know I think I put a lot more pressure on me as an educator to be a good role model but you know I don’t expect somebody who’s got Crohn’s disease or Lyme’s disease or even HIV to tell me that they have it when we’re just making out but I want to give them a heads up what’s going on for me just on the off chance that they have some sort of compromised situation so that they can choose really powerful for themselves. That’s just me and that’s me being a nerd about this kind of stuff. I’m not going to shame you for what your choices are because you’re an adult and you can make your own choices but I will talk about things that I think will be more useful or more powerful.

So I’ll take you on this weird walk…there’s the sound wall right here and the highways on the other side of it and it just sounds really noisy so we’re going to go to the other direction. So again like with herpes for me, some of the ways that I talk about STD’s and STI’s is from this perspective of some of my friends who are clinicians and who work in the HIV world and like needle exchange world where they’re really talking about in approaching drug use from a harm reduction model and so another thing I’ll just tell you to consider is when you when you nerd out on harm reduction models, the first thing that’s really useful look at is like as…as somebody who’s doing needle exchange work with….with folks with substance abuse addictions, what’s going to kill you? Like we don’t talk about STD’s and STI’s from that perspective. So, from a harm reduction perspective, herpes isn’t fatal and…and it can be problematic with….with immune compromised situations and herpes can certainly put you at risk to you know if you’re having an outbreak and you have a…you know like a let’s say you’ve got a…I’m forgetting the word for it. When you have a blister, you have a herpes blister and it’s kind of busted, then fluid exchange and blood exchange can be more tricky there.

So when you have a herpes outbreak, you’re at risk to expose yourself in more dramatic ways to be able to catch something else and risk transmission but when you think about herpes from “do people die from herpes?” Herpes isn’t a fatal thing. Herpes is tricky if you’re having an outbreak genitally and you’re in labor and you’re about to give birth and in those situations they almost always go for a C-section rather than risk the infant being exposed to herpes and maybe getting….’coz they can get like herpes in your eyes and stuff like that but for the most part, people don’t die from herpes. So from a harm reduction model, herpes isn’t fatal so it goes in the whole other category of…of how do we deal with it and this is why in the medical world, a lot of places, a lot of clinics won’t test for herpes because what they’re testing for is the stuff that will kill you not the stuff that’s socially stigmatizing. And the blood work test for herpes is kind of expensive so free clinics usually won’t spend money on that because no one’s really studying herpes. There are usually free clinics will get grant money to study certain things and so they’ll go and get testing you know paid for and so it’s free so that you can so that they can get better data and results.

Since herpes isn’t fatal and no one’s really spending a grant money on it then what ends up happening is clinics aren’t testing for it and that’s kind of how that shakes down or the way it was described to me. And so when you when you think about it from this perspective you know approaching STI’s and STD’s from what can kill you, now from a harm reduction model the reason one of the reasons you want to get tested regularly is you want to know if you have chlamydia or syphilis or gonorrhea or HIV because the sooner you know about these things, the…the easier it is to treat things and the better it is to get you back to normal health. HPV, sorry about the truck….HPV and herpes are those two things that are so difficult to prevent exposure to because of how its transmitted around skin-to-skin contact and then there’s a lot of a lot of interesting you know ideas and…and some studies on HPV and…and whether you….you know if you get an irregular pap smear, what you should be doing about that? My….again, I’m not a doctor nor do I play on the television but I do hang out with doctors who nerd out on this stuff, the best advice I have for you overall is get tested at least twice a year if not more frequently if you’re sleeping with a lot of people and especially if you’re sleeping with a lot of people who’s sleeping with a lot of people. Getting tested regularly and practicing you’re safer sex conversation all….conversations always, those are really helpful because you know if you’re testing positive for something and you’re constantly practicing talking about your results so that hopefully on a day when you do if you if you do test positive, you have the courage to tell your friends and lovers that you’ve tested positive for something so that everybody can go and get…get tested and get treated. That’s the harm reduction model. You can’t prevent always from being exposed or catching something but what we can do is lean into getting tested and having awareness and then taking the best next steps that we can when people do test positive and also like using condoms super helps change the game around STI’s for a lot of different reasons but we don’t need to get into it right now ‘coz this video is kinda long and the…and I’m about to move in to another noising place.

So I’ll leave it here. Leave your comments. Again, I’m not a doctor but I am a nerd. I’ll put some links in in the video description so that you can geek out on your own but you know getting tested regularly, having your safer sex conversations with everybody so that you know you’re also modeling that it’s okay to talk about this stuff. Understanding and having the tools to work through your emotional feels and fears around getting something and you might want to have those….those thoughts and conversations with yourself you know “what if I tested positive for gonorrhea?” And gonorrhea is tricky right now because in some parts of the world you know there are some antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea. So that’s not…it didn’t use to be like that but now it….it is like if I get gonorrhea and it’s a resistant strain, that changes my situation health-wise and so as we move forward as…as a culture there will be more conversation in nerdery about gonorrhea as well but for right now, odds are you know if you’re using condoms, if you’re getting tested regularly, if you’re having your conversations and you sleep with people who are doing those things as well who will also tell you when they test positive, you’re in a much better place health-wise. There’s…there’s still risk but the risk is reduced greatly and that’s the basic…basic advice and it’s okay to have feels so you know keep breathing and hang out with people who want to have these conversations and I think that will put you in a better place over time.

Alright everyone, have a great weekend sexual freedom for everyone and I’ll talk to you later. Bye! Mwah!

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