Should you freak out if you get a positive [STI] test? Probably not, depending on the number of “false positives.” Here’s the mathematical reasoning, based on a disease with a 1% rate in the population, where the test finds the diseases 100% of the time, but has a 5% “false positive” rate.
The “moral” of the story? Don’t freak out (yet); instead, get a second opinion.
Of course, the exact numbers will depend on how accurate the test is, and exactly what the false positive rates are. But mathematically speaking, a positive test is not something to freak out about, at least not until there are TWO positive tests in a row. Preferably by different testing methods.
This, by the way, is why you really shouldn’t “out” someone publicly who’s just told you privately that they got a positive test, and are awaiting re-testing (while taking appropriate precautions not to unnecessarily expose others in the meantime, just in case). Because the HIGH probability is that the re-test will be negative. Making a big deal about whether they’ve told absolutely everyone yet is just going to cause drama that is likely completely unnecessary. Giving them a little empathy about how challenging it must be to get this result and how hard it is to wait, on the other hand, would probably be really welcome. 🙂
May you always love boldly, safely, and well!
Want some help negotiating safer sex (or any other kind of) Agreements? I’m always happy to schedule a free 30 minute session (or 60 minutes for half price). Read what other people are saying about my work here. Or read more about making Agreements in my KISSable Agreements workbook entries. 🙂 Still got questions? Feel free to contact me on my Love Outside the Box webpage.
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[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]