by David Wraith
This post is inspired by World AIDS Day and this post on The Beautiful Kind website.
Those of you who know me have probably heard me refer to myself as a “free range, poly man-whore.” By that I mean that I am polyamorous, but not part of a closed poly circle or family. I place no arbitrary cap on the number of sex partners I might have at any given time. I also don’t discriminate against potential sex partners solely on the basis of their sexually transmitted infection (STI) status.
Yes, you read that right. I do not rule out potential lovers because they have a sexually transmitted infection. I’ve had lovers with HIV, HSV, HPV, HDTV… if it starts with an “H” and ends with a “V,” I’ve probably had sex with someone who had it.
Having a lover with an STI can be a tough pill to swallow, even for some serial monogamists. How many times have you seen “disease free” listed as a requirement on a personal ad? It can be even harder for people to wrap their minds around it for someone who is polyamorous. But despite my whoring and my non-discrimination policy, I’m happy to say that I have not tested positive for an STI since the great University City High School Chlamydia Outbreak of 1991, back when the term “Polly” just meant a Nirvana song to me.
For me, ethical polyamory in the age of STIs means educating myself on STIs, how they are transmitted, how long their incubation (or window) periods are, and how, where and when to get tested for them. It means full disclosure to my lovers and potential lovers, balancing one person’s right to privacy with another’s right to informed consent.
It means doing a lot of math in my head. Keeping track of who I slept with when, what STI they have, and how soon I can get reliable test results for it. And yes, having lovers in different parts of the country sometimes even means taking their STI statuses into account when I plan my vacations. It means not always engaging in all the sexual activities I’d like to when I’m in the window period.
It means condoms, condoms, condoms. And lube. And gloves. And even sometimes, dental dams.
It means getting tested. Often. I’ve been tested so many times for so many things, I could write a Zagat’s Guide to STI Testing in St. Louis. If fact, I think I will. (It’s after the jump and this mini-podcast)
4169 Laclede Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
Screening for: HIV & Syphilis
Results in: 20 minutes for HIV, 2 weeks for Syphilis
Testing Hours: Monday –Friday 9am – 5pm
Appointments: Walk-ins welcome from 11am – 4pm, earlier or later by appointment only
Tip: Bring a book to read for the waiting room. Reading magazines especially written for the HIV positive community can be educational, it can also make you paranoid while waiting for your results.
Pros: Free testing. Fast results. Mission driven organization.
Cons: Testing only for HIV and Syphilis.
1027 S. Vandeventer #700
St. Louis, MO 63110
Screening for: HIV only
Results in: 20 minutes
Testing Hours: Monday –Friday 9:30am – 4pm (no testing between 11:30am – 1pm)
Appointments: Walk-ins welcome on Mondays and Wednesdays, appointments required Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Tip: Bring a book to read for the waiting room. See above.
Pros: Free testing. Fast results. Mission driven organization. Well trained staff.
Cons: Testing only for HIV.
3401 South Grand
St. Louis, MO 63118
(go to www.plannedparenthood.org for the location nearest you)
Screening for: HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, (Herpes and Hepatitis C)
Cost: $75.00 (Herpes and Hepatitis C are an additional $40.00 each)
Results in: 3-10 Business days (depending on test)
Testing Hours: Mon 10:30am-7:30pm, Tue 9am-8pm
Wed 12pm-8pm, Thurs 9am-6pm, Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 9am-2pm
Appointments: Appointment must be made 1 day in advance
Tip: Be prepared to spend an hour or more in the waiting room, even with an appointment.
Pros: Mission driven organization. Well trained staff. One of few places I know locally that sells dental dams. Cheapest Herpes testing I can find.
Cons: More expensive than going to St. Louis Connect Care. Appointments can be difficult for working people.
5535 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63112
Screening for: HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis
Results in: 2 weeks
Testing Hours: Monday –Friday 9am – 4:30pm
Tip: Be prepared to spend an afternoon in the waiting room.
Pros: Least expensive for battery of tests given
Cons: Staff not necessarily used to working with diverse or sex positive populations. Also, my results were lost and I got a very scary letter just saying that I had to return to the facility as soon as possible. Not recommended for anyone LGBT, poly or kinky who can afford Planned Parenthood.