Using a condom is a little like getting into a small enclosed space with a bag of BEES. As long as the bag doesn’t break, leak, tear or get a hole in it, you won’t get stung. All you gotta do is make sure the bees stay in the bag. But what if, while you're focused on the bees in the bag, there's SPIDERS under the shelf just waiting until you get close enough to crawl on?! Or what if you're so focused on the bees, you don’t even notice the army of ants marching up your pantleg!
That's exactly what you're doing when you trust a condom.
Condoms can only protect what they can cover, like a sock. But when you put on a sock what’s protecting the rest of your leg!?There’s no way to tell by "looking" if someone is infected. They might not even know they're infected, and if they did know, there's a good chance they wouldn't tell you.
Yeah, so your next thought is, “In that case, I'm going to make sure my partner gets tested before we do anything!” But getting tested doesn’t PREVENT you from getting infected. It just tells you if you ARE.
Let me explain. Suppose you and your prospective partner get tested. The clinician takes blood, urine and maybe a cell scraping (that's what a PAP smear is). Two weeks later you get your results. Both of you tested negative for the Big Five: HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C. (There are more than 30 STIs, but no one tests for everything.)
Yay! You're “safe,” right?
Most clinics don’t test for Genital Herpes (HSV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV - the cause of cervical cancer and genital warts). They’re both more common than the Big Five. HSV and HPV infect millions of people every year. But clinics don’t test for them unless you have symptoms.
Pay attention there: They don't test for it unless you already HAVE it!
Herpes is forever. HPV can live in your body for years before your immune system clears it. No virus is technically “curable.” If/when you're infected, every one of your partners will be at risk for getting it from you.
OK, so you want to be responsible. That means, you don't want to takeany chances. You ASK the clinic to test both of you for HSV and HPV in addition to the Big Five. Results, negative. Whew. Now you know you're safe, right?
All you really know is that on the DAY OF THE TEST, your results were negative. What if the “viral load” (the level of germs in your body) is too low to be detected? What if, a few days AFTER the test, but BEFORE you got your results) one of you hooked up with someone else? You would still test negative, even though one or both of you could be an infectious carrier.
To be REALLY sure that you're “clean,” a responsible healthcare professional would advise you “Don't have sex AT ALL for at least six months. Then come back and get tested again.”
In the meantime, they'd tell you, avoid ANY type of sexual behavior (remember STDs can live in the mouth too!).
If you were that responsible, you’d spend all your time establishing a foundation for an actual relationship instead of in bed, and you'd really find out if you guys are a good match.
Then, by the time you two went back for your second round of STD tests, you’d know if you were with your Happily Faithfully In Love Foreverpartner. And if not, then at least neither one of you got hurt, and maybe you even formed a strong friendship.
Something to consider, don't you think?