Don’t Share Your Straw on a Date!

I recently heard a story about a young woman who went with a friend or two to meet some young men for drinks. Somewhere along the course of the evening, this woman shared one of the guys’ straw. [Wink, wink.] The next morning she woke up with a horrible sore throat and so, not having insurance, she went to the local emergency room where they told her she had strep throat. In case you don’t know, many physicians don’t necessarily run strep cultures in light of a bad sore throat, their reasoning being that it takes a couple of days for the test to come back and the rapid strep tests aren’t very reliable, so it’s just more cost-effective to prescribe some antibiotics. I don’t disagree with that reasoning at all, a fact that I am sure will come as a relief to countless physicians.

This young lady has now had two courses of antibiotics and wonders if she might have contracted a STI from the young man’s straw [wink, wink]. I’m working very hard to keep this a family show, folks.  Rather than do what any intelligent person might do and return to the doctor and come clean about the straw [I’m killing myself, here], she consulted with a friend about the relationship between strep throat, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other STIs. The friend then consulted me. What am I, the clap guy? Do I look like a walking STI resource, or – worse yet – a walking STI? Do I have a sign on my back that reads, “Ask me about the gift that keeps on giving?” Maybe this is some sort of karmic retribution for telling a young friend of my daughter’s back in her high school days that yes, the rumor she heard was true, that if a young woman spent too much time sharing straws [wink, wink] she could indeed develop permanent red spots around her lips. (She almost passed out, so I had to tell her the truth.)

I asked if the young lady had been tested for STIs and the answer was that she had not because she didn’t have health insurance. I referred her to one of the many places where free testing is available, but there is a larger question at work here. Obviously, there is more than a little misinformation out there coupled [you should pardon the pun] with very little understanding of concepts like incubation periods. More than that, here are some truths for you kids to consider:

1. A blow job is neither a handshake nor a kiss goodnight. [So much for the family show.] It’s probably a pretty good rule of thumb here in 2012 to know somebody a little better than is possible over a couple of drinks before exchanging bodily fluids. In fact, if I may be so bold, if you aren’t comfortable asking someone if they have any STIs, it’s a pretty good sign you don’t know them well enough to be exchanging fluids.

2. STI education is everyone’s responsibility. If you’re going to drop trow, or borrow someone’s straw, you should have already educated yourself on the causes, symptoms, and course of treatment (if any) for STIs. What’s more, if you have an STI yourself, you need to be responsible and tell your potential partners before they use your pride and joy to clean their teeth.

3. If you have an STI, there is no need to be ashamed. There are more than enough irresponsible people out there running around infecting people, and more than enough people who are unaware they are carriers of STIs running around infecting people that a significant percentage of the population now has some kind of STI. What should  cause you shame is knowingly infecting another person.

Can we get a little responsibility here, please? No wonder mother always told me not to share anyone’s straw!

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