Sexual Health More Transparent With eCards

Armen Hareyan's picture
STD eCard
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The Internet Sexuality Information Services (ISIS) has created inSPOT-LA, a website for people (mostly homosexual) who have a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) to inform their recent sexual partners anonymously, by sending ecards. This would alert them to risks of possible infection, and allow them to get checked sooner.

The STD eCard is a brilliant idea, I think - circumventing the social ignominy of direct contact while ensuring that the crucial message is sent. Good intentions, meet anonymity. And the ecards express a range of emotions - from the stick-to-the-facts to the colorful to the tongue-in-cheek. Only in California, writes Escaping Flatlant.

Talking to your sex partners, in person, by phone or online, helps take away the stigma associated with HIV and other STDs. And it's scientifically proven to reduce transmission.

TIPS ABOUT THE ISIS SITE

You can send electronic postcards ("ecards") anonymously or from your email address. Generally, when you identify yourself, it's more likely your sex partner(s) will "hear" the message and get tested. Notify everyone you've had sex with in the past six months. For STDs especially, oral sex counts, too.

Try looking through your old emails and your online address book to complete the list. If you decide to compose a personal message, put yourself in the other person's shoes. Think about how you were told - what you liked and what you didn't - and put the best of it into words.

You don't have to provide detailed medical info - this email card will automatically provide links to what they need to know.
No personally-identifiable information will be collected or shared with any public or private agency.

While it may sound daunting to think about talking to your recent sex partners, perhaps also including your primary partner, and telling them that you've been diagnosed with an STD, it's important to let them know as soon as possible so they can get treatment, too. If these are people you have regular sexual relationships with, it can be even more important to discuss this because if one partner is untreated, many STDs can be passed back and forth indefinitely.
Remember, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are treatable STDs, where antibiotics work. However, if left untreated, syphilis can do extensive damage to your internal organs and neurological system, and gonorrheal and chlamydial infections can spread to other parts of your body. Talking to your partners about your diagnosis will not only reduce the stigma associated with getting an STD, but will help take care of the health of you, your sex partners, and the entire community.

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You have to come to terms with your own diagnosis before you start talking to your partners. It's unrealistic to expect other people to understand if you're uncomfortable with the diagnosis yourself. How well-informed are you? Do you know the facts about STDs? You want to feel confident and knowledgeable before you explain the infection to someone else. You can also always call the CDC National STD Hotline with questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 800-227-8922 or 800-342-2437. In addition to talking to you personally, they can mail you brochures and information to have on hand to give to your partners.

If you're nervous about talking to your partners, here are a few tips to help you gain confidence:

* Try role-playing with a trusted friend or in front of a mirror. Practice saying the words out loud.

* Choose a neutral setting during a time when you won't be distracted or interrupted. Be natural.

* Speak with confidence. You are not lecturing or confessing. You're sharing personal information.

* Remain calm. If you're upset, a partner might think it's worse than it is. Remember your delivery and body language becomes your message, too.

* Expect your partner to be accepting and supportive. People usually act as you expect them to.

While some people may overreact, some won't bat an eye. Whatever happens, try to be flexible. This is about sexual health -- it's not a "whodunit" mystery. Keep your perspective: syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea symptoms are annoying but harmless if you get proper treatment. If left untreated, not only can these infections wreak havoc on your body, but they can make it much easier to transmit HIV from sex partner to partner. It's time to take care of yourself and take care of your community. Talk to your partners today.

I.S.I.S., Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to developing and using Internet technologies to prevent disease transmission and enhance the sexual well-being of individuals and communities. Our mission is to provide leadership, innovation, educational resources and research in online sexual health promotion.

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