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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 3:56 pm 
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Except for chlamydia, STI testing has not really ever been a routine part of my primary care or gynecological care experience. I have never been offered HIV testing outside of blood donation. But I can get it (all) if I ask for it, certainly at Planned Parenthood if not at my regular doctor (I don't know what's currently covered by my insurance because it was new this year and I haven't been to the doctor yet.)

As far as sex-ed... this would be from '80 to '88 in southern California... In 5th grade we had the intro to puberty bit: your bodies are going to start changing, menstruation is normal and old wives tales about not washing your hair during your period are dumb. In 6th grade we did human anatomy and did the reproductive system the same as any other organ system: here are the parts, here are what they do/how they work as a system. In 8th we split up into boys and girls in P.E. and our P.E. teacher did a "health" unit that was all a recap of 5th and 6th, with some additional cursory information on STDs (as in, they exist) and birth control (as in, it exists.) I think it was 10th that we really learned about what the major STDs were, how they were transmitted, how they could be prevented, how a couple of major forms of birth control worked, how to combat peer pressure to have sex. No condoms, no bananas, precious little coverage of HIV (which would have been full of misinformation anyway since this was 1986ish and what we "knew" about HIV then is at least partly myth today, it was just so early on.*) Not very good overall, but at least not full of lies and lies of omission. I already knew a lot as least as far as hetero intercourse and pregnancy went because my mom had been thorough and straightforward about where babies came from when I was too young to remember actually acquiring that knowledge.

*Good god, I remember my mom's gay male friends dropping like flies in the early to mid 80s. And I remember her friend Jon receiving the diagnosis of ARC (AIDS-Related Complex for those too young to remember when that was a thing) and being told he had a 5% chance of developing full-blown AIDS at a time when being HIV-positive was a completely untreatable condition. Where the 5% came from is anyone's guess, but it makes me really mad because it was 1985 or '86 and he was positive (and symptomatic!) and they gave him reason to believe he had a 95% chance of somehow being just fine. He was so relieved, and then excited to meet a man with the same diagnosis/prognosis. Of course, he was gone inside of a year. I don't know about his partner, but I'm willing to be he didn't live to see the 90s.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:18 pm 
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My PCP for a long time was an MD at a clinic that specialized in treating an HIV+ LGBT clientele, so they regularly ran comprehensive STI panels and were up to date on all the local outbreaks. My MD ended up going back to get a Masters in Public Health and now works in government addressing some of those sexual health issues. I super-puffy-heart love him.

When I moved the burbs, my new PCP hasn't offered STI testing, because I seem so low risk. I did the full panel of tests when I was trying to get pregnant in 2010, but haven't had any since. My former PCP's advice was to get tested, even if you were in a monogamous relationship, because you really never know if someone is stepping out on you or if you have a dormant infection that could pop up. FYI, there is a test that can detect HIV antibodies in 20 mins. It does have a risk of false positives, but can provide a quick way to assuage fears if needed. http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/hiv-aids-screening

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:44 pm 
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My male partner, while in NYC, was counseled not to have STD panel done after he requested one. He demanded it and the doctor agreed to do it, but said it was unnecessary due to low risk. I found that to be strange.

In NYC public schools, there is a required HIV curriculum that begins in kindergarten and goes all the way to high school. In elementary school, each grade gets 5 lessons that are designed to go with the developmental stage of the child. So in k-2 it's mostly talk about germs vs. viruses, the immune system, etc. By fifth grade there is a discussion of risky behaviors.

When I was in high school (20 years ago in the US South), we had a clinic in the school building. You could get birth control, condoms, tests, and general care. We were required to take health to graduate, which included explicit sex ed. Looking back on it, it was completely appropriate and informative. I remember a girl in my class asked if you could get pregnant if you used Saran Wrap as a condom. I hope they are not teaching abstinence only now!

Eta: there was a banana


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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:22 pm 
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Butternut wrote:
My male partner, while in NYC, was counseled not to have STD panel done after he requested one. He demanded it and the doctor agreed to do it, but said it was unnecessary due to low risk. I found that to be strange.

How the hell does this doctor think STIs are spread?

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:14 am 
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Woah, how the hell has sex ed gone so far down hill? I gradauated two years ago. Sex ed for me was a two week session 4th-8th grade. The curriculum itself was meant to be entirely abstinance based (condoms were mentioned as a way to prevent STIs, but lots of fear mongering about how having sex before marriage will destroy your life for x,y,z). In 10th grade we had a semester long health unit, and I think sex ed was a month of that. Even though it was abstinance based, my 6th and 10th grade teachers made it very clear that sex before marriage happens, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just be careful and make sure it's what you actually want, and you feel comfortable and cared for by your partner, and are prepared. Which, is pretty much how I feel about it.

Oh, and in 8th grade we had someone come in and talk to the girls (the guys were there too, but it was entirely directed at the girls) about virtue and how it's something to be valued and a guy doesn't want something that is used. No, I am not kidding. And no, this was not a private school. How the hell that was allowed, I don't know.

9th grade we had something similar, though it was less sexist. All the freshman had their afternoon classes canceled one day and we went to the gym to listen to some religious motivational speaker talk about saving yourselves to marriage. Again, public school. I can't remember exactly what he said, but I remember being like "what the fizzle is this shiitake?" When I came out of it. It was pretty ridiculous.


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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:58 am 
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I have nothing to add about the availability of STD testing in the UK, which I think has been pretty much covered. But, one thing I always remember about sex ed class is that we were asked to write down as many synonyms for penis and vagina as we could think of. I have no idea.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:51 am 
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Disappearing Ink wrote:
I have nothing to add about the availability of STD testing in the UK, which I think has been pretty much covered. But, one thing I always remember about sex ed class is that we were asked to write down as many synonyms for penis and vagina as we could think of. I have no idea.
Given the opportunity, why wouldn't you put that in a lesson plan? I wish I could do that every day.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:54 am 
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Gulliver wrote:
Disappearing Ink wrote:
I have nothing to add about the availability of STD testing in the UK, which I think has been pretty much covered. But, one thing I always remember about sex ed class is that we were asked to write down as many synonyms for penis and vagina as we could think of. I have no idea.
Given the opportunity, why wouldn't you put that in a lesson plan? I wish I could do that every day.


Do you teach syntax? I'm sure you could weasle it into a syntax class. Or even one on (frame) semantics. OR if you do phonology/historical stuff (which is I think the case?), reconstruct those IE* roots! Work on the sound changes and sub-culture uses/differences! Etc. if you have 18 year olds, they will love you.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:55 am 
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Gulliver wrote:
Disappearing Ink wrote:
I have nothing to add about the availability of STD testing in the UK, which I think has been pretty much covered. But, one thing I always remember about sex ed class is that we were asked to write down as many synonyms for penis and vagina as we could think of. I have no idea.
Given the opportunity, why wouldn't you put that in a lesson plan? I wish I could do that every day.


Hah. You raise a fine point. With a room full of 14 year olds, I'm pretty sure it descended into chaos, but I do know a lot of different words for genitalia, so I guess it paid off.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:44 am 
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lutin wrote:
My experience: I am from the US, currently living in NL. I asked my GP for an STI panel, and she didn't even blink. I got the test done on the spot and the results by phone two days later.

My dude is from NL and currently living in a tiny village in DK. He has been trying (and failing) to get an STI test for the past month. His GP in DK thinks it's "not necessary" because he is at such low risk. The sex health clinics in my part of NL are not interested in him because he's "not at risk enough", and tomorrow he has an appt. with a sex health clinic in a larger town in DK (where I worry they will tell him the same thing).

In the meantime, the lack of easy access to STI testing has caused unnecessary stress and etc., etc. I don't understand why it's so difficult to do such an easy test for something which clearly affects multiple people! /rant.


UPDATE! Dude was just swabbed and tested for everything at the sex health clinic in the city 2 (4, really) hours' drive from his place. Hooray! (I would still love to know why his GP thought it was a good idea to refuse those tests when this clinic made it so easy to do them, buuuuut I am happy the tests have been done. At last. Here's to hoping they all come back negative!)

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:15 pm 
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Sex education in my school (UK single-sex state school, mid-seventies) consisted of one lesson where a woman came to talk about menstruation and gave out samples of sanitary towels and tampons, two biology lessons where we drew diagrams of the reproductive system, and one lesson where a very embarrassed teacher told us that boys couldn't control themselves if they got "worked up" so we should be very careful not to lead them on (I kid you not).

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:24 pm 
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Mid-90's CA: In 5th grade, the entire class had to watch videos with live, natural child birth. We got a basic anatomy lesson, and then split into male/female groups. In the female group, I remember hearing about menstruation and being given samples of pads and deodorant (product placement!). In 8th grade, we had a semester of human bio, half of which was spent as sex ed = lots of different class enactments to show how quickly STD's spread, lots and lots and lots of STD info., lots of colored charts with male/female anatomy, banana+condom stuff, some mention of the pill (but no other options) and almost no discussion of non-PIV sex ("It exists! Moving on...."). In 10th grade, I did a fancy human anatomy class in which we discussed relevant sexual anatomies + "gestation" in horrid detail (but just as part of the human body; honestly, we spent more time on the kidneys). In 11th grade, I did a bonus science class, which meant a unit on STD's in which we had to learn about them in different communities (gay vs. straight, 1st vs. 3rd world, that kind of thing....).

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:17 pm 
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In my 7th grade health class (in the USA, in New York state) we had to give a presentation to the class about an STD. Mine was on syphilis. I wrote a song about syphilis and sang it to my class. It was forking hilarious.

So we knew all about STDs, but very little about how sex actually worked. I don't have a penis so I had no idea what a penis was actually like in real life until I met one face to face (...so to speak.) I had no idea about erections or that stuff other than pee came out of them. No idea at all. Also, no idea what people did during sex. I thought they just lay there with their genitals pushed together. I couldn't imagine why this was such a big deal.

I also did not know that gay people existed until I was at least 11 or 12. I thought I invented the idea.

As for HIV/STD testing, I haven't had occasion to need it in a looooooong time, but I know where to go if I need it. In the US, if you live near a city (and in some cases even if you don't), there will often be an LGBT health clinic that offers free testing, or that has certain days that you can come in and get the fee waived on those days.

Also, this may be taught differently in different places, but when I was trained as a safer sex educator and later as an prevention outreach specialist, we were taught that although technically "STI" is more medically precise than "STD" because the medical term "disease" is used if there are symptoms whereas "infection" is used whether or not symptoms are present, it's in the interest of public health to say "STDs" anyway because that term is more recognizable and because a "disease" sounds to people more like something they should take seriously.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:33 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
we were taught that although technically "STI" is more medically precise than "STD" because the medical term "disease" is used if there are symptoms whereas "infection" is used whether or not symptoms are present
"The clap" is a lovely term. Yesterday, at the clap clinic, I was tested for chlamydia to see if I still have it. While the test came back negative, I've been given antibiotics again to be sure because I've got some, but not all, associated symptoms.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:35 am 
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Sex education in Irish convent school in the 1970s consisted of tracing the reproductive organs of a female rabbit from a text book followed by Sister Margaret saying "and the system is much the same in humans." before rushing out at the end of the lesson. We had considerably more health education about head lice and verrucas than about sex.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:42 am 
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Ruby Rose wrote:
Sex education in Irish convent school in the 1970s consisted of tracing the reproductive organs of a female rabbit from a text book followed by Sister Margaret saying "and the system is much the same in humans." before rushing out at the end of the lesson. We had considerably more health education about head lice and verrucas than about sex.

My sex ed in English catholic school in the 90s wasn't much better!

We had a 1 hr lesson about periods, when we were 13! Myself and most of my class had already been having them a while by then! And we had a 1 hr "sex ed" lesson in science where we were allowed to write anonymous questions and our science teacher would answer them. Except he didn't actually answer any of them. And I think there were some pictures of a monkey's reproductive system or something!!

Thank goodness for having my mum who'd already answered everything I wanted to know, years before this.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 7:42 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
Also, this may be taught differently in different places, but when I was trained as a safer sex educator and later as an prevention outreach specialist, we were taught that although technically "STI" is more medically precise than "STD" because the medical term "disease" is used if there are symptoms whereas "infection" is used whether or not symptoms are present, it's in the interest of public health to say "STDs" anyway because that term is more recognizable and because a "disease" sounds to people more like something they should take seriously.

We're taught to use STI because it's less stigmatizing.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:53 am 
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j-dub wrote:
choirqueer wrote:
Also, this may be taught differently in different places, but when I was trained as a safer sex educator and later as an prevention outreach specialist, we were taught that although technically "STI" is more medically precise than "STD" because the medical term "disease" is used if there are symptoms whereas "infection" is used whether or not symptoms are present, it's in the interest of public health to say "STDs" anyway because that term is more recognizable and because a "disease" sounds to people more like something they should take seriously.

We're taught to use STI because it's less stigmatizing.

I use the term STI in real life, but used STD in my description of my sex ed in the 80s because that was the correct term at the time. It was emphasized as the term to use in place of VD which is what we'd heard growing up.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:44 am 
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As far as sex ed:

My parents started talking about it as soon as I was old enough to start asking questions (maybe 3 years old?)
5th grade: periods and sex, mostly a Q&A format (with the questions submitted anonymously)
6th grade: same
7th grade: Health class, same as above but a lot more time on STDs, funny old fashioned videos
9th grade: Health class, pretty much the same as 7th grade but also had nutrition, fitness, hygiene
At least one more formal class, but I can't remember what year

I can not overstate how much the military loves testing for STDs. I get an HIV test at least once a year and a full panel every year. I could do it once a month and I don't think they'd bat an eye. They also freely and joyfully give out free birth control (any kind). The Air Force is very interested in healthy genitalia.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:54 am 
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I wish more of the US gov't were interested in policies which grant such free and easy access to birth control and STD testing!

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Last edited by lutin on Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:54 am 
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Invictus wrote:
I can not overstate how much the military loves testing for STDs. I get an HIV test at least once a year and a full panel every year. I could do it once a month and I don't think they'd bat an eye. They also freely and joyfully give out free birth control (any kind). The Air Force is very interested in healthy genitalia.

That's so interesting! It's funny how the Right-wing love the Military, but hate sexual health, yet the Military loves it!

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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:44 am 
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So, as mentioned my experience here in Denmark is quite different from Nature Boy's.
My GP is awesome. No judgment, and he always does all the tests I ask for and last time he tested for gonorrhea as well as the ones I asked for.
When I lived in the countryside I had a GP who I had to pressure into giving me a HIV test, because she thought I wasn't at risk.
All GP visits are free.
Regarding sex-ed; I had some wonderful teachers who were very open and honest. When I was in second grade one of my classmates told the teacher that another boy had raped one of the girls in the toilet(that hadn't happened at all), so my teacher decided it was time for us to have a project about sex, reproduction, anatomy, consent, labels and slang for sex and genitals etc., it lasted for at least a week. She gave us a few books that we could keep in the classroom, one of them was called something like: "The night Christian's littlebrother was conceived" and the other one was sort of an encyclopedia about sex. I never looked in the encyclopedia, but the other one was read aloud for me(involuntarily) and my two little brothers by my mum at dinner one evening. Foreplay and oral sex was demonstrated in that book. I was mortified at all of it, which is strange, considering how casual my mum is and always has been.
After that we had some sex-ed every year from fourth to ninth grade. I don't recall abstinence ever being mentioned.


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 Post subject: Re: STI's: cross-cultural edition.
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:23 pm 
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I'm in San Diego, of course. I used to think testing was pretty easy - obviously, if you have health insurance, just go to your practitioner and order it. If not, there's the county std clinic, and a couple others. But due to budget cuts and the like, I'm finding these things inadequate. Ryan White got rolled up into the county's Low Income Health Program. I work as a temp, so at first I made too much money, then I didn't have any income at all, which they can't accept, and now I make too much money again. I'm working the problem, and with the ACA, it won't be an issue next year, but I've been without meds for about 6 months now and I'm starting to get a little worried. More than that, and back on topic, I haven't been able to get an STD test since April. The county has reduced hours, and on top of the reduced hours, can only see a certain number of people each day. I went to another clinic last night, and they were also full. They saw me anyway, because I'm preeeeeety sure I have stage 2 syph, but there's just so much red tape and waiting involved even if you can get seen. You're looking at a 2-4 hour block of time for a basic STD panel. Then you get to come back for another 1-3 hours for treatment if you've got something.

On the note of HIV in the 80's: that was such a dark, horrible time, and I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have survived it. A friend of mine has one of the markers for HIV, but not actual HIV - some genetic thing. Some antibody tests look for that marker, others look for other markers. Last year, he happened to get a test at his dr's, instead of at the clinic, and his dr. told him he had AIDS and roughly 6 mo to live. Off of an uncomfirmed HIV antibody test. As awful as it would have been to be told you were totally going to be fine when you were close to dying, I wonder how many people had false positives, or even real positives and would have been long term nonprogressors, but killed themselves during that time.

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