At some point in our lives, many of us may have gotten the impression that if
people decide they want to have sex with each other, it’s as simple as asking,
“your place or mine?” A big reason for this is that movies and TV shows don’t
usually show anyone getting tested for STI’s regularly, asking each other for test
results before they have sex, or getting tested after that.
Media has taught many of us that communicating openly about STI’s isn’t a part of being sexually active, but that isn’t the least bit true.
This refusal to acknowledge STI’s in media seems to stem from the fact that people are reluctant and even ashamed to talk about them in real life. The question is: if people don’t judge each other when they get a cold or the flu, then why are people who have STI’s subjected to shame and guilt?
The likely answer is nothing short of ridiculous: STI’s are sexually-transmitted
(shocking, right?), so when someone is shamed for having them, they’re actually being shamed for having sex in the first place.
We can only begin to move past this pattern of sex negativity and judgement by understanding that there’s always a chance of STI transmission if we have sex, but testing positive doesn’t mean that someone is “in the wrong” and it doesn’t make them a bad person.
The key to understanding this is educating ourselves. Fortunately, Dr. Evalene
Molina Dacker, an Integrative Family Physician who specializes in sexual
wellness and teaching a sex-positive approach to sexually transmitted infections,
has partnered with Sex Positive World to help us along this educational journey,
as the instructor for the upcoming class, “DeSTIgmatize STI’s”, which will take
place on May 6th, 2023, via Zoom.
Dr. Dacker has dedicated much of her career to informing and educating people about STI’s from a sex-positive perspective, including creating the STARS Talk©, which is a communication framework designed to help start open, honest conversations about sex and intimacy.
During her recent appearance on NPR, she discussed the STARS
framework, as well as the science behind several common STI’s, and the
importance of being upfront about our sexual health, desires and needs.
Dr. Dacker’s work helps bring attention to the fact that STI’s are a risk of pursuing sex and relationships, but they aren’t a reason to walk away from potential connections and partners.
That’s why it’s so important for us to go beyond the aspects of sex that we see on TV and in movies.
Getting tested regularly, prioritizing honest conversations about our STI
status, and understanding that having STI’s isn’t something to hide, are some of the most important ways we can show how much we respect and care for each other, and there’s nothing sexier than that.
See more of Dr Evalene Molina Dackers work on her website and @sexmeddoc on Instagram.