It’s amazing the crazy things people believe when it comes to STDs and protection. Here are some of the craziest STD myths I’ve heard, and the real truths that people need to know.
“One of the great misconceptions is that people who have STDs know they have them, … That is absolutely incorrect.”
I spent the early part of my career working with juvenile delinquents at a residential placement facility, commonly known as “kiddy jail”, for inner city boys.
I was doing an individual counseling session with a client who had returned from a home visit the week before. He asked for a nurse referral and I asked what for. “I’m hot,” he said.
“Uh-huh. You know… Hot. Like it burns when I pee,” he nodded, like I should know exactly what he was talking about.
I nodded in response. “You know your home visit contract said no sex.”
He gave me a half-laugh.
“What about the condoms I sent you home with?”
“Pfft. I don’t like those things. Plus I did a test and thought she was clean.”
I gave him a look of surprise. “A test? Like an STD test?”
“Yes, Miss Molly. An STD test.”
“You’re telling me that on a weekend at home, you and a girl went to a clinic, pissed in a cup, got the results and they said they were clean?”
“Well. No. I did the ear wax test.”
I just looked at him like he was joking.
He wasn’t. He proceeded to explain that when he’s ready to have sex with a girl, he will discreetly get a bit of ear wax on his finger, and put that finger into her vagina. If nothing happens, the girl is safe and doesn’t have any STDs. He seemed satisfied with his answer.
“What happens if she has an STD?” I asked.
He gave me a grin, “That shit’ll sizzle.”
My head dropped to my hand. “No, no, no.”
He seemed concerned. “No, I’m serious, Miss Molly. That’s what happens.”
I continued to shake my head, “No, Buddy. It’s not what happens. I swear to you it’s not. Please tell me you’re making this up.”
Again, he wasn’t.
That evening, I decided to change our group theme to talk about safe sex and STDs. I ask the 32 young men in my unit, all of them sexually active, too many of them already fathers, about how they protect themselves from STDs. Most agreed that they don’t. But a few mentioned condoms, and then another kid, ironically from the same area in Philly, brings up the earwax method.
A few of the other young men nod in agreement and I asked him to clarify. He proceeded with the same spiel as kid one.
“So what happens if she had an STD?” I naively asked.
“The wax will sizzle,” he replied.
And we wonder why nearly 80% of sexual active people are infected with HPV.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the kids who believe STD myths.
Another time, I was at a state conference put on the JCJC, standing outside the Pennsylvania capital building. I was between trainings, smoking a cigarette with two male colleagues from the same facility, both of them in middle management. We had just sat through a training seminar on poverty. We began talking about misconceptions that many inner city youth have, and I shared the above story.
My co-worker, an educated man in his mid-thirties, looked at me and said he doesn’t use condoms. My mouth dropped open. He further explained, stating that he doesn’t sleep with “dirty” women.
I started laughing. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You think you can tell by looking at a girl that she’s got an STD?”
He nodded, saying he can tell if she’s “clean” simply by how she dresses, talks, and presents herself. At that point, I shook my head, put my cigarette out, looked at him and said, “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard you say. It’s no damn surprise that our clients are coming back from passes complaining that it burns when they piss!”
Had I more balls at that point in time, I would have asked the ignorant man if I looked like I had an STD. Standing there with my hair done, wearing four inch heels and a fitted business suit. Did I look like someone who had STDs?
Because I have.
As a 40 year old woman who’s only slept with five men, I’ve have two STDs.
Because shit happens and diseases spread. And because it’s not just teens who believe these myths. It’s college students, educated adults, single moms, hell, maybe even you! There are thousands of myths out there, but below are the truths that you need to remember when it comes to STDs and protecting yourself.
STD Myths Busted with These Truths
STDs are not prejudiced. They don’t care about your color or creed. Or how many letters follow your name or what tax bracket you fit in. They treat the prostitute on the corner the same way they treat the politician in DC.
If you’re sexual active and have more than one partner, condoms are a must. They are, by far, your best protection, although even when used properly, condoms cannot protect you from all STDs.
You need to get tested. Even if you have only had sex with one person, unless they were a virgin, you need to get tested. And if you’re not in a monogamous relationship with someone that you trust with your life, you need to get tested regularly. I’d recommend every three months because…
Not all STDs have symptoms (neither of mine did). That means you can have an STD you never know about and never have a positive symptom. And without testing, you end up spreading it around like the green beans at Christmas dinner.
Not only do some STDs not have symptoms, some can’t be tested for. Sometimes chlamydia goes dormant and will not show up on tests, just hiding in there, waiting to find new breeding ground (this is what happened to me… until three months into a pregnancy and a low immune system started causing cramping). Some strands of HPV, which infects over 20 million Americans, can’t even be tested for, especially in men.
So be careful, screw smart, and don’t fall prey to the myths that are out there all around us.
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