Posts Tagged ‘STDs’

Unusual e-card, or How sometimes bad news are good for your health.

I’ve been a fan of e-cards since I first came across them, and before that, I was always a fan of paper greeting cards. One of the reasons why I enjoy my visits to the US so much is the variety of cards that you can buy pretty much everywhere. I remember finding myself mesmerized when I first witnessed the supermarket isles filled with all sorts of cards, tidily organized by occasion or card company, or both… I couldn’t move, I was quickly drawn to explore those beautiful papers, and that became one of my “when-in-the-US activities” (as you might have well guessed, many of such activities include shopping: everything is so easily available at Wal-Mart, Pet’smart or Barnes&Noble). My parents would do the shopping and I’d spend the whole time at the market looking through the cards, one by one, admiring the creativity in most of them, trying to remember some of them to reproduce them at a home-made version in Spanish… by the time my parents were cueing at the cashier, I would have carefully picked a sensible number of cards that I’d take back with me. The rigorous process of selection usually took me around two hours (I know what you might think, but I don’t suffer from OCD, ADD or similar…), but being that I seldom find myself engaged in an activity for longer than 15 minutes (that’s why I don’t play games), I must assume that there is something highly addictive in this process that has managed to catch all my interest and enthusiasm… (typical, blame the addiction…)

Unfortunately these trips to the US were of limited duration and after two weeks of heavenly visits to the supermarket, I had to return home to Argentina, the land where you never find the right card for the occasion (of course, it’s probably the last of our concerns over here in Argentina, especially compared to our socio-economic-political problems). Luckily the e-card movement soon expanded and, before I could realize, I found myself spending hours online checking each and every sample from hallmark.com (still my favorites). It is only in the last few years that I have given up on the e-card fixation, since I have found that I now enjoy making my own cards or just writing letters much more. I still use the e-card service from time to time, but only in special circumstances…

Anyway, being such a card lover, I couldn’t help being interested in inSPOT e-cards when I first read about them online on an article in PLoS Medicine (by the way, highly recommended open-access, peer-reviewed journal! please visit and support it!)

So what is inSPOT?

inSPOT.org is a service where people can send e-cards to their partners and hookups regarding possible exposure to an STD.

Below you will find some examples:

I know, I know… I guess your first reaction is: “what the heck?!?”. I’m sure that opening your email to find such news cannot be easy to swallow, but before we erase inSPOT from our internet browser’s history, we should maybe think: is it ever fun, or easy, to receive this kind of news? Is it ever something we expect?

As for me, I’d say NO. Receiving the news is not only shocking, but will most often than not imply that the story doesn’t end there. Once you know you have an STD, apart from seeking treatment you must tell whoever you’ve been with as soon as possible (so that they can also get treatment), and hence you quickly go from being the one who gets the bad news to being the one who has to give them. So, putting ourselves on the other side of the story: when confronted with the situation, would we know how to tell our sexual partner/s that they might have an STD?

Again, my answer is: NO. But I’d welcome any ideas that help me deal with the matter, including inSPOT e-cards. At inSPOT website you can also find other tips on how to confront the issue.

All in all, STDs are no joke:

– They are more common than we think, many times they remain symptomless for a long time and hence they are easily transmitted through sexual contact without protection. By the time you find out you have an STD, you might have had sexual contact with many people and all of them can potentially have and transmit it… and so the chain of transmission goes on.

– Some STDs are curable*, but since they show no symptoms, they go untreated for a long time and might cause serious health problems, including infertility.

– Other STDs don’t have a cure yet, but they are currently treatable* and can be kept under control with the proper treatment. When untreated, they can seriously compromise your health and even kill you.

I’m not sure what method of communicating someone about possible risk of an STD is the most appropiate. I guess it’s a matter of personal choice, or preference, or simply a matter of what you can or can’t do in each particular situation… Hypothetical case: you spent the night with someone some months ago and you never saw them again (you didn’t try to reach them or, in fact, you made sure they couldn’t reach you, or viceversa… hey, it might happen). You have no desire to see that person again (or viceversa), but you need to tell him/her to get checked. Would you attempt to tell them personally (attempt that might be perfectly ignored and that, frankly, might not necessarily be a better option), or would you make sure that they get the message? After all, it’s for their own safety…

Talking to your sex partners, even virtually, helps take away the stigma associated with STDs. AND it’s scientifically proven to reduce transmission.

inSPOT.org

Well, I guess each one of us has to answer it for oneself. As for me, I think inSPOT is a great idea and that it’s doing a significant service to the community by addressing a taboo through creative means. It’s up to you to take it or leave it, should you ever need it.

In any case, here’s a piece of advice:

BE SAFE 
GET INFORMED 
GET TESTED.
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