I was recently introduced to a new resource for managing safer sex and testing results. It’s called Qpid.me, and it claims to be “A free, simple way to share your verified STD results” by registering with them, and having your results sent directly from your doctor to their private database.
Here’s what they say on their website:
To make informed sexual health decisions, you must not only be informed about your own health, but also about your partner’s health as well. We enable you to privately share your STD [Sexually Transmitted Disease, aka Sexually Transmitted Infection or STI] status however you choose. We believe that sharing is a good thing and that it can lead to better sexual health decisions, more (safe) sex and fewer STDs.
The service is limited, and doesn’t include a couple of important STIs (e.g., HSV, aka Herpes), and so far doesn’t seem to include a way to make any statement (or have your doctor make a statement) about those STIs, either. Here’s the list of what they DO cover (from their FAQ):
- » HIV: PCR/RNA, antibody and viral load (for HIV positive users)
- » Gonorrhea: genital/urine, rectal and oral
- » Chlamydia: genital/urine, rectal and oral
- » Syphilis
- » Hepatitis C antibody
- » HPV vaccine
- » Hepatitis A vaccine
I myself have some concerns over this whole idea, around the idea of the results being useable to potentially stigmatize someone/s in the community who turns up “positive” for something. On the other hand, stigmatizing is certainly being done NOW, without benefit of this service to speed up the process, so I’m not sure how much actual increased risk there is.
I’m also concerned about things like financial accessibility, and that requiring a certain kind of testing might become a way to effectively marginalize some less-privileged parts of the community. Of course, there are some free or low-cost resources available, at least in most urban areas in the US (e.g., Berkeley Free Clinic), but in the current economic and social climate, this certainly is not a guarantee for everyone in all areas… and even if you live somewhere that’s covered by such services, accessing them can be more than a little bit of a hassle. (Not to mention the issues inherent with contributing to the unsustainable medical-industrial-complex in the US. (Thanks to Charlie Glickman in Twitter for that link))
One of the other things I’m concerned about is the common misconception that clear test results mean there is no risk of getting an STI. It doesn’t. It’s incredibly important to remember that testing gives you a snapshot at a particular point in time, and that any sexual contact with others means that the snapshot may no longer be 100% accurate (see more about the “window period”). Depending on how active you and/or your partner/s are, the accuracy could range anywhere from “still good” to “completely false.” Clear tests are never a substitute for good safer sex practices (e.g., consistent and correct condom use, and being mindful about cross-contamination), honest conversations with your prospective partner/s, and possibly having a Safer Sex Agreement (whether that’s something that’s “only” an Agreement with yourself, or whether that includes 1 or more partners as well.) Remember also that any Agreements you make are best made in advance of clothes coming off, and when everyone’s awake and sober!
In any case, I thought this might be of interest to some folks here, as one part of a comprehensive Safer Sex Agreement or plan.
(And now my brain is suddenly full of images of eggs and juice and the phrase “[brand name cereal] is part of a complete breakfast”! *chuckle*)
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). And if you act before the end of February, you can still get my Valentine’s Day coaching discounts.
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[© 2013 Dawn M. Davidson]