What I wish more people knew about STIs, a thread.
Most people in your life have an STI, they just don’t talk about it in casual conversation. If you’ve never heard about STIs outside of sex ed and the occasional herpes joke, that’s because people are afraid to bring it up. I guarantee someone in your family has had an STI.
You have absolutely dated or slept with someone who has an STI. You just didn’t know, because they may not have known! The most common symptom of an STI is having no symptoms at all.
People don’t get STIs because they were “irresponsible” or “promiscuous.” Some STIs, like herpes, aren’t only transmitted through sexual activity. But no matter how a person gets an STI, it isn’t a punishment. It’s just an infection.
It is never your business how someone got an STI. If someone discloses their STI status to you, do not ask them how they contracted it. It shouldn’t impact your opinion of them at all.
No one “deserves” an STI, just like no one “deserves” the flu.
If someone you are dating tells you that they have an STI and you don’t know what to say, just say thank you! You don’t have to decide in the moment if you’re comfortable having sex with them. You can go home and do your research. But you do have to be kind.
You owe your sexual partners the same opportunity to make an informed decision. Tell them what you know about your STI status. Go get tested to make sure you actually know your status, instead of just assuming you’re fine.
Please, please, do not use the term “clean” to describe testing negative for STIs. This implies that people who have STIs are dirty. It's obnoxious.
No sex is entirely "safe" sex. Condoms don’t fully prevent herpes transmission. All sex poses some risk of transmitting an STI unless you know for a fact that you and your partner do not have an STI – which most people don’t, because herpes isn’t on the standard STI test panel.
People with HIV who have an undetectable viral load — which refers to the amount of HIV in the blood — are not at any risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.

Undetectable = Untransmittable.
If you date someone who has an STI, they are not “lucky” that you chose to "accept” their STI. They’re a human being with plenty to offer. Their STI does not lessen their value or make you a saint for being willing to date them.
I wish more people spoke publicly about living with STIs, but a powerful social stigma prevents us from feeling safe doing so. It’s common for people who have just been diagnosed with an STI to experience depression, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
If you feel comfortable sharing your STI status publicly, or even sharing it in conversation among friends, it can make a huge difference to those who are struggling with feelings of isolation and shame. It also teaches people that STIs are normal and impact everyone.
STI stigma is a blindspot for a lot of otherwise progressive, curious people. It overlaps with conversations about body positivity, healthcare access, disability, and consent, but it is rarely addressed. Which sucks! Because it impacts billions of lives.
We should also talk about STIs when we talk about domestic violence. There's a correlation between partners who don't disclose their STIs and partners who are physically and sexually abusive. And an STI+ person is at increased risk for abuse.
I wrote a memoir about my experience getting diagnosed with herpes in my early twenties. It's called LIFE RUINER, and it explores all of these themes.

You can read it here: bit.ly/2K4FVJR
If you’d like to learn more about what it’s like to live (and date) with an STI, I gave a TEDx talk about it in 2016.

You can watch here, or read the transcript: bit.ly/1USOYu2
I don't write as much about herpes as I used to, but if you'd like to support my work and learn more, you should join my Patreon community. patreon.com/brosandprose
As an aside, it is incredibly weird to still be one of the only people in ~Media Twitter~ who is openly STI+. We have so much influence over culture and we squander it when we say nothing.
Telling someone that you have an STI is an act of generosity and courage. It displays your character and the respect you have for your partner.
I made this thread into a public post on my Patreon. You can read it there and share with folks off Twitter! bit.ly/3x2YH7b

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