So you’re sitting at home on a Monday night, settling in to watch My Kitchen Rules or Q&A (whatever floats your boat, no judgement here).
You’re just about to take that first sip of your cup of tea or glass of wine, when you receive a text.
It’s from your ex. Ugh.
You expect it say, “I love you, I miss you, you’re the most amazing sex I’ve ever had, please take me back”.
Or perhaps, “Please stop retweeting my pithy Q and A commentary, it makes me deeply uncomfortable.”
Or even, “Hry bsbe wat yui up to?”, if they’re the type to drunken text on a Monday night.
But instead, your text message says this: “John R’s results. Tested two months ago. HIV: NEG, Gonorrhea: NEG, Chlamydia: POS, Syphilis: NEG. Disclaimer: This person may have had sex since being tested. Reply STOP or HELP. Msg&Data rates may apply.”
That’s right. John R has just texted you his STD results.
Because apparently, that’s a thing now.
So if you’ve contracted an STD, need to tell your sexual partner or previous partners and aren’t that into awkward conversations: there are websites that can help YOU.
These sites allow you to request your STD results from doctors… and then share them with a past sexual partner or (if the results are negative) with someone you would, ahem, like to get intimate with, through an emailed link or a text message.
Once users give sign up by providing some basic personal information — like their name, age, phone number — Qpid.me creates a records request that gets e-faxed to their doctor. When the results come back, users are able to share a one-time use link with anyone they want. The site shares results for HIV, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C antibody, as well as the HPV and hepatitis A vaccines, but does not include HPV and herpes status.
Proponents of the site say it empowers users to get and stay on top of their STD results in an easy way. For too long, health care providers have told patients that “no news is good news,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine and public health at UCLA who serves as a medical advisor to Qpid.me.
“People have a right to that information,” he said, adding that “anything that promotes more conversation, more dialogues and more transparency in sexuality is a good thing.”
Sex just got tech savvy. Or rather: more tech savvy.
With websites, text messages and phone apps now assisting in the discussion of sexual health, it represents a definite shift away from the social mores of the past. Where once sexually transmitted diseases would only have been discussed in hushed tones and behind closed doors, now your private records are an open book (or e-book) – to whomever you want to share that information with.
No awkwardness required.
Of course, much like the argument against teenagers having sex in cinema theatres applies – “if you’re too young to be having sex at home, you’re too young to be having sex” – some might say that if you’re not comfortable discussing sexual health openly and honestly, perhaps you should get comfortable with it, before you get some.
The website that offers this service, Qpid.me, is one of a number of other websites, such as U Should Know (a somewhat ominous website name) and inSPOT (which sends anonymous postcards to past sexual partners saying that you – ‘anonymous’ – have since been diagnosed with an STD). The proliferation of these websites indicates that not only is social media playing a bigger role in the procurement of sex (think of apps like Grindr), but the aftermath. Perhaps even the act itself.
At the moment, these websites are only found in America – but with STDs on the rise among young people in Australia, perhaps there is something to be said for social media having a place in our sex lives.
The ABC reports that:
Australian HIV infection rates increased by more than 8 per cent in 2011… The annual surveillance study into sexually transmitted diseases in Australia shows the latest rise contributes to a 50 per cent growth in infection rates over the past 10 years. The report also shows diseases like gonorrhea and Chlamydia are becoming more common.
People between the ages of 20 and 29 are the group highest at risk. And the place where this group interacts – and gets most of their information, and flirts through pokes and winky-smileys – is undoubtedly online.
At the end of the day (or perhaps the beginning of the night, boom tish), the most important consideration is whether or not websites, apps and text messaging make it easier to be safe about sex. And if it does, then bring on the Australian version Qpid.me. Perhaps OZCupid.
The only question after that would be how long until OKCupid and OZCupid join forces, to provide the ultimate online dating, sexing and sexting experience.
Would you ever text your STD results to a romantic partner? Do you see the development of websites like these as a positive thing?