I've been relatively slow off the mark considering STDs properly.
In retrospect, I've been unrealistically trusting of people letting me know of any STDs they may have, let alone knowing their status in the first place.
That said, this hasn't been a significant risk for me til recently. Although I've been open to sex with other people in principle, since Sago and I got together we've mostly been practically monogamous. Apart from a couple of forays, we hadn't hooked up with anyone else until me and Carob, three years' back.
Last year was when things started to fan out a bit. At that point, I should have confronted the STD issue explicitly, but I didn't. For some reason, it wasn't til Carob and Ella got together (and I was hearing of Ella's other partners) I thought - wait on. We should discuss this properly. (Stupid, I know.) Long-distance was a factor here too (Carob started dating Ella after I left town); maybe it would have crossed my mind earlier if not for the long-distance.
Anyway, I did a bit of research at the time (earlier this year) and found this really good resource about STDs and Poly:
I've been meaning to post about it but hadn't got around to it.
After reading the articles, and some other things, I decided to get smarter about this stuff. I chatted separately with Sago and Carob and figured we could do regular tests spaced out so that between the three of us we get tested every four months. I 'locked in' a firmer consciousness of my own boundaries with any new partners. I know Sago is very conservative in his own practices. Carob and I are a bit more relaxed. But neither of us want to be dumb, and have a commitment to informed best practice.
Anyway, I got tested first - about a month ago. Was all good. Carob's up next, later this year. We felt we'd dodged some bullets by not dealing with this aspect earlier, but glad we were on the right track now. Still more to discuss perhaps re: clear agreements on how restrictive we each should be about any new partners (at the moment, as before, there's a basic expectation of safer sex, but what that means for each of us is up to us.)
Well. All this is somewhat unrelated background to an issue that came up this weekend. Carob calls me with some really bad news. He sounded freaked out (in fact, his opening words were - "Bub, I just think I did the stupidest thing of my whole life"), and tells me he had a slip up with someone the night before, who's HIV+. Based on what happened, it's very low risk of infection for him but it's still exposure and we'll need to treat it as serious til he's clear. Tests at 28 days, 3 months and again at 6 months (though 95% of cases show up in the first test, at 28 days). And of course treating our sexual encounters as +/- til then. Fuuuuck. A diagnosis would be life changing.
Last couple of days have been very rough. C feeling intense fear, guilt. We've been chatting a lot. I am so happy I'll be seeing him soon, just 2 1/2 weeks from now. Small mercies.
Praying we can dodge just one more bullet. Re-assessing how risky we are with other people. I guess being non-monogamous sexually is a risk in itself. Yada yada. Other people (like link above, and heaps on swinger sites too, and prolly elsewhere on this forum) have written about this in depth. This is just my own experience of making judgment calls.
I value sex with my current partners too much to get it wrong. I'm considering being even more stringent with new sexual partners, even maybe not kissing (!) Feels a bit paranoid to me, but it doesn't hurt to check where my boundaries are and why. Since it's going to be a long wait before C is fully cleared (six months), it is something positive to do in the meantime.
Thought of a food analogy today. How I eat food prepared by other people expecting that they wouldn't serve me anything that is dangerous for me. I had til recently unconciously thought of sexual partners like that too. But since turning my mind to this (earlier this year), I have realised my naivety - esp considering many people who have an STD don't even realise they've picked up one.
I wasn't allowed to go to sex ed at school (my ma wrote a letter excusing me due to religious reasons.) I wonder if I would've been so slow on addressing this if I had more info about this growing up. Not really exonerating though, I feel there's enough attention on the topic of STDs that I should have known better.
Mm. Well. Fingers crossed for Carob. No matter what happens, we're going to be even less likely to take a disease-free status for granted from now on. If you're the praying kind (of any tradition), prayers would be really welcome right now.
Finally, I know some people may feel critical of anyone ever having a relaxed approach to this topic. All perspectives are appreciated but please be respectful and gentle.