Medicine with Richard Bleil
My last physical encounter (yes, sex) occurred when President Obama was in office. My problem is that I have a difficult time separating the physical act of love from the emotion, but I’m not exactly innocent either. I have been sexually active, and certainly wouldn’t mind if it happened again, although it seems less and less likely all the time. But, it occurred to me that, although it’s been a number of years, I haven’t actually had a medical screening for sexually transmitted diseases since my previous partner. It’s not that I distrust her, and frankly if I had caught anything I suspect I would have seen symptoms by now. Still, though, it seems like a good idea.
We are still struggling with Covid, although it seems to be waning. At the clinic, they insisted on masks for all of their patients, but STD screening is a lot like masks for Covid. See, the masks are more for the people who come in contact with the individual wearing the mask, not as protection from Covid itself. Yes, indeed, it does help to protect the wearer a bit, but the primary purpose of the mask is to diffuse moisture droplets as the wearer exhales, diffusing the exhaled breath so it does not spread as far.
Getting an STD screening is more to protect one’s lovers than oneself. Yes, indeed, if something is found in the screening, it should lead to treatment to cure, or at least control, whatever comes up. For example, to this day there is no cure for Herpes, but knowing one is infected can yield approaches for its control, but not cure. But with a screening, one knows if they are infected and should use special protection, or they are not in which case, frankly, protection should still be a priority. My apologies to my Catholic friends who believe this to be a sin, but my purpose here is to protect bodies rather than souls. That’s a topic for another day.
It seems as if, over the years, STDs have faded from the scene. I am old enough to remember when AIDS first became a part of the American scene. I remember a documentary of a nurse that noticed a mysterious disease among primarily homosexual men and recommending the use of prophylactics (condoms) to protect themselves, a suggestion that did not go over well. Some form of prophylactic use has been traced back to at least ancient Greece where, as I understand it, wearing sheep bladder was used to prevent impregnation. Suddenly, the use of prophylactics found their way into the spotlight not to prevent pregnancy, but rather to prevent the spread of disease. It seems as if I have sex so rarely that when I buy condoms, they tend to be stored past their expiration date before I can use them, but yes, I’ve used them. Today they come in so many varieties designed to enhance his pleasure, and her pleasure, and the pleasure of that guy peeping through the shades of the window and pretty much everybody. Honestly, the choice of condom a man makes actually says something about if he’s more interested in his lover or himself.
Sex can be used as a weapon in so many way. It’s not uncommon for young men to use sex as a form of “bragging rights”, frequently ruining the reputation of his partner. There are also stories of people in the ‘90’s who found themselves infected with the HIV virus who would intentionally try to infect others, truly horrific stories of what amounts to a form of attempted murder. It’s no different than when people infected with Covid would intentionally breathe on people attempting to cause them to become infected in just the past few years.
Getting an STD screening does very little if a person discovers that they are infected but don’t tell anybody. The responsible adult will inform their past, present and future lovers if the screening reveals any infections. It’s not easy. I had a lover (my very first lover) inform me of her Herpes infection early. She is my hero for having done so (and, yes, I’ve been tested several times for this infection and the results have always been negative). We had a rather protracted conversation about what it means to have the virus, how it can be spread a few days before any symptoms of an outbreak appears, and the medical consequences if I were to become infected. I’m glad I’m not, but it meant a lot that she informed me, and yes, we took precautions.
I guess, if there is a moral to this post, it’s to try to encourage my readers to get a screening. If you’ve had any lovers since your last one, or if you’ve never had one done, go ahead and schedule the test. Today’s test (the result of which will be a few days yet) involved a urine and a blood sample. It was very easy. And it can mean the world to your partners, if not yourself.