Why My Friends and Family Slut Shamed Me for Contracting an STI

Until very recently, I had been single and dating for about the past four months. I had been on dates with several men during that time, and while it may seem shocking to some, I had sex with a portion of those men. A few weeks ago I began experiencing the classic symptoms of an STI, so I went to my doctor right away.

I was not surprised when I was immediately treated with antibiotics to attack both gonorrhea and chlamydia, as they tend to go hand in hand. My test results came back, and, as expected, I tested positive for both gonorrhea and chlamydia. By the time we knew the results, I had already been successfully treated and cured.

I had disclosed this information to some of my closest family and friends only to be greeted with an attitude of slut shaming. I got the same response from nearly everyone I told. They would all mention something sort of like this: "I'm glad to hear you got treated, but you should really be more careful and use protection."

Perhaps the people who said these things are just ignorant of how these kinds of STIs are spread, but I was highly offended by these comments, because I do use protection, and I am very aware of my sexual health. I always use protection during penetrative sex and recently got a prescription to begin taking Truvada as PrEP.

Here's the thing: Many of these common and easily curable STIs can easily be spread through non-penetrative sex. I know for a fact that everyone who preached to me about practicing "safer sex" does not use protection for oral and other non-penetrative forms of sex. Yet they somehow find it appropriate to stigmatize my sexual behavior simply because I contracted two of the most common STIs.

In fact, after the first signs of some type of infection, I immediately visited my physician and got treated. I also notified everyone who may have been exposed. I did all the right things, but because the infections I contracted were of a sexual nature, for some reason they felt I needed some sort of lecture on safer sex. None of these people lectured me about hand washing the last time I caught a cold.

Based on the amount of people who asked me if gonorrhea and chlamydia were treatable, my takeaway from this experience is that these people are the ones who need to practice safer sex and be more aware of their sexual health. I don't think anyone meant to slut shame me, but I do think they lack basic knowledge regarding STIs and how they're spread.

This is precisely why people don't openly discuss their sexual health, because people are afraid of being stigmatized by those who are uninformed. It's also the reason that so many of these diseases continue to spread, because people think they're practicing "safe sex" when in reality they should probably go get tested for STIs.