miss_s_b: (Mood: pervy)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
So we're just getting to the end of National HIV testing week, and as I said in my post the other day part of being responsibly poly is not just to play safe, but to get yourself regularly tested. I last got tested for everything as part of the huge numbers of tests they did for my mystery abdominal pain* in May, so it's been about 6 months. So today I went to get tested. I suspect that this is another one of those posts people will accuse me of being "brave" for writing. As usual, I'm not being brave, I'm doing something necessary.

I can't talk about what it's like for boys, because my equipment is different, but I can go into gory detail about what it's like for girls ...

So the first thing you need to know is that if you don't fall into a high risk group then you can have a sort of testing-lite system. I don't actually know how that one works, though, because I fall into a high risk group. Not, as might be expected, because I'm poly, but because I have had sex with bisexual men. If you're a girl, and you've ever had sex with a man who has had sex with another man**, you don't ever get to experience the testing-lite system. So here come the details of the full Monty tests.

Today I was tested for Chlamydia, Gonnorhea, Syphillis, HIV/AIDS, Trichomonas vaginalis, HPV, and thrush*****, amongst other things. There were lots of different sized/shaped phials, three microscope slides, and lots of stickers identifying them as belonging to me that got attached to all these.

The worst bit of it, though, is not the actual testing (if you've ever had a smear then this is not really much different), it's the questionnaire. They try to break you in gently with the normal "did your mum ever have cancer" type questions, but then it gets down to
When did you last have sex?
Was it oral, anal, or vaginal?
Who was it with (not names, but age, gender, racial profile, etc.)?
Did you use condoms?
Did you use any other type of contraception?
And what about the time before that? And the time before that?
They want the full details of the last five times you had sex and the type of partner you did it with (Ooo you ARE active, aren't you? said the nurse to me today). I don't actually see what purpose this serves other than causing embarrassment to the patient - if you're there for sexual health screening clearly you are sexually active or you wouldn't be there - and it was a bit worse for me today because the nurse was someone I vaguely know***.

Eventually, though, you will get through the questionnaire. Then it's time for them to shove things up your chuff. Similarly to having a smear, you get the cold speculum and the crap lube**** and the incredibly bright light shone right up where light normally doesn't ever go. This tends to lead to slightly nervous conversation about Other Subjects while the nurse does a visual inspection, then scrapes and swabs. After that you get to have some blood taken.

Some of the swabs might get parcelled up to be sent away; some of them might be tested right there and then. I suspect this depends entirely on the facility you get tested at. In terms of my tests today three were done while-u-wait and the rest I have to phone up for in a couple of weeks.

And that's it. I'm not going to try and claim that it's fun, but it's not that bad, and it's necessary.


*Still mysterious, but the surgical adhesion theory seems to hold water because the pain is mostly gone since I lost over a quarter of my body mass...
**Other high risk groups include men who have had sex with other men and anyone who has had sex with filthy foriegners, as well as the ones everybody thinks of like sex workers.
***YAY for knowing everybody who has drunk in a pub in the lower valley the last 15 years
****seriously, one of my funding priorities for the NHS would be astroglide. Even if most people don't bother going for sexual health screening, half the population has to have smear tests on a regular basis...
*****thrush is not actually an STI per se; although it can be sexually transmitted, most of the time it just develops all by its own sweet self. But when you go for sexual health screening makes sense for them to check for that while they're down there.

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 01:21 pm (UTC)
pseudomonas: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pseudomonas
I've not tried saying "none of your business" to the "who've you been shagging" questions, but I probably should.

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 02:00 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
At one of these I got told I was irresponsible and, basically, was guaranteed to have AIDS because I'd slept with a bisexual man. Way to encourage people in these "high-risk" groups to get tested!

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
cis male here: it's not too much different, I think, except they have a urethral swab thing (possibly for chlamydia?) which is rather uncomfortable. I'm not sure if they don't test males for HPV and trichomonas or if I've just had the low-risk version of the tests.

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm uncomfortable asking this question but you might know the answer via LGBT+ or something. If your partner is bisexual & trans, what gender do they 'count' as for the purpose of risk assessment? I worry that the nurses are not knowledgeable enough on trans stuff to advise and don't want to misgender my partner if discussing their gender history is not necessary.

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 03:18 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
I'm planning on going next week. I can ask if I remember.

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 04:26 pm (UTC)
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] redbird
I am suddenly very pleased with my (new, because I moved recently) GP. I said I wanted a new patient appointment plus STD screening, and the closest to being questioned was when the assistant looked at my intake form and queried that I had circled both "men" and "women" on "are you sexually active? If so, is it with [men] [women]?" and not included a space for "both." So I told her out loud "yes, I circled both. I have multiple partners," and she nodded and we went on with the exam. Nothing about how often, or how many is "multiple."

The only odd bit was that they had a standard list of tests they were going to run, and I had to ask her to add one, hepatitis C. I left that explanation at "the CDC wants everyone in my age group to have that test once" and the doctor said OK. (The U.S. considers Baby Boomers a risk group, in part because even if people didn't lie about sex, they're also looking for "got drunk/stoned and then did risky things and then tried to forget that part of their misspent/adventurous youth.")

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
hellokitsune: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hellokitsune
I've discovered that the fastest way to confuse a doctor when asked about contraception is to say "Leeds Bradford Airport" :)

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
missdiane: (Bear hiding eyes)
From: [personal profile] missdiane
If it's any comfort, it's no less embarrassing answering the complete opposite to the sex questions. I think any doctor besides my actual GYN thinks I'm lying.

Then again my GYN is the awesomenest chick ever because she heats the speculum, gets a junior sized one for me and invests in the good lube (or at least I assume, how would I know? lol)

Date: Friday, November 29th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
You remind me I've been failing to book a smear test. Ugh, speculums.

Date: Saturday, November 30th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] swaldman
I actually have no idea how to arrange screening in a rural area. When I was living in London I was able to go to a walk-in clinic (although it took about 2 hours of web search to find that out, since for all one can tell from the web, only under-25s ever need to get tested).

I presume one asks a GP...?

To fill in the "what is it like for (cis) men" bit: Blood sample, urine sample (for UTIs, I think), and the Really Uncomfortable Swab Up The Inside Of The Penis ;-)

Date: Monday, December 2nd, 2013 01:43 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
Who gets "testing lite" seems to depend on the clinic. The vast majority of my partners have been bisexual men, I'm poly, and I'm on testing-lite at Bart's. They take 3 vials of blood (from a single needle) and give me a DIY swab to do in the privacy of the loo attached to the consulting room, and they only do a genital exam if there are specific symptoms I'm concerned about. The questions are also less intrusive. My experiences there have been way less unpleasant overall than you describe here - much less so than a smear test - so I'd urge anyone who does have a difficult experience to shop around, if they live somewhere large enough to have more than one clinic.

Date: Thursday, December 5th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
I've just come back from a screening. I definitely didn't get the full Monty. Some blood taken,some urine taken. In addition to that, as I had sex with a man 15 years ago, a sharp piece of wire got stuck where the sun doesn't shine and wiggled around a bit, which was fun. Nothing up the head of the penis though.

I was asked the full battery of questions - when, who with, how, condoms etc etc for the last time with each of my current partners, but they just didn't seem to want to do as much to me.

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