Ethical Polyamory in the Age of AIDS (and Other STIs)

The results were negative... ladies.

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)

HIV Test (mp3)

Project ARK

4169 Laclede Ave

St. Louis, MO 63108


Screening for: HIV & Syphilis

Cost: Free

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.


St. Louis Effort for AIDS

1027 S. Vandeventer #700

St. Louis, MO 63110


Screening for: HIV only

Cost: Free

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.


Planned Parenthood

3401 South Grand

St. Louis, MO 63118


(go to 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.


Smiley Urgent Care Center (St. Louis Connect Care)

5535 Delmar Blvd.

St. Louis, MO 63112



Screening for: HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis

Cost: $25.00

Results in: 2 weeks

Testing Hours: Monday –Friday 9am – 4:30pm

Appointments: Walk-in

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.


  1. This post was wow. You never cease to amaze me, dear David.

    Here is another local STI testing resource: St. Charles Health Dept. – STI testing package that includes HIV, Hep C, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, all for $30, 636-949-7401

  2. Thank you for that list, David! For people 13-24, there is The Spot (near Laclede and Sarah), which I believe is a Wash U project. It provides free counseling, birth control, sti testing and treatment, and other services to young people. They were very friendly and helpful to me. They seem like they would be an invaluable resource for sexually active people under 18 who can not let their parents know, as their questionnaire included many options for how you’d like to be contacted and what kind of information can be left where. Contrary to the information on their website, they have walk-in hours from 1-2:30 on the weekdays, appointments scheduled a day or two in advance from 2:30-5, and it’s best to try to get there by 12:30 if you don’t have an appointment. Cheers!

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