A new short film from BuzzFeed Yellow shows just how terrifying it can be to find out you have a sexually transmitted infection.
The video titled “Getting Tested” features a young woman going to the doctor to find out if she has an STI. The film is an important reminder of how easily people can contract STIs; it doesn’t matter how many people you’ve slept with or if you’ve mostly had safe sex ― a lot of it comes down to bad luck.
As the young woman is laying on the doctor’s table getting the exam, she says, “This is really not like me... I’ve only had sex with, like, five people.” The doctor tells her she might have genital herpes, but it’s much more common that most people realize. One in every six people in the United States has genital herpes.
The woman struggles to come to terms with possibly having an STI. She has to deal with the aftermath of telling her current partner that he needs to get tested. Later, she grapples with casually dating again.
The short film was written and produced by BuzzFeed Video Producer Ali Vingiano and BuzzFeed Senior Editor Kirsten King. Vingiano, who also directed the film, told The Huffington Post that they decided to tackle the topic of STIs because it’s not discussed enough in mainstream culture.
“We decided to write something about STIs to try to normalize how we talk about them, and the people we associate with having them,” Vingiano said. “We were interested in showing this happen to somebody who seemed like she could be your friend, who isn’t particularly sexually promiscuous, and who had always tried to be safe. In film and television, STIs typically serve as nothing more than a punchline, so we wanted to challenge that narrative and broaden our viewers ideas of what the reality of an STI looked like.”
As the woman’s friend says to her towards the end of the film: “You don’t have to date shitty people because a shitty thing might have happened to you. You deserve to be happy.”
Practicing safe sex is always important, but sometimes a “shitty” thing happens ― and it’s not a reflection of your character or worth.