- Did you know that HIV is now completely treatable and a person can have a normal life expectancy, and, with the right treatment, the person can’t even pass the virus on…but early diagnosis is the key?
- During 2015 over half of all new HIV diagnoses in the UK were diagnosed late, resulting in mortality rates being increased by 24 times more than that of the general population.***
- Around 37 million people worldwide live with HIV or AIDS and there are an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year.
- Despite being treatable HIV/AIDS remains the biggest killer of women aged 15-44 years.
There’s something really difficult about the subject of STDs that I can’t quite put my finger on. There’s such a horrible stigma attached to the subject and yet it’s something the majority of us have been affected by at one time or another.
The stigma has always seemed ridiculously unfair to me as many STDs are caught quite innocently and can stem very much from someone else’s carelessness as opposed to our own. Picture the scene, you start dating someone, you take it slow and you wait a reasonable amount of time before getting physical only to find them sat on the edge of your bed in floods of tears whilst confessing to a chlamydia infection. It just happens, and some STDs are caught easier than you can possibly imagine.
I recently caught up with a former Coronation Street actress friend of mine (who has politely asked to remain anonymous), in her own words “I live with a b*tch named herpes.” The herpes virus is one of the easiest caught and one of the few STDs with the worst long-term implications.
She went on to explain: “I caught it from a guy who was a typical 3 month relationship, he didn’t tell me he had herpes and I guess it just wasn’t something I thought to ask about, I mean why would you? You can’t start every relationship asking about what diseases they have! Eventually you accept that you’ve caught something, but then every time you meet someone the whole cycle starts all over again. It’s such a horrible feeling to build a rapport with someone and then the moment things look like they’re getting physical you know there’s a horrible conversation to be had. What people don’t realise however is that it’s not just about sex, the harsh reality of my life now is that someone could catch it just from kissing me, am I supposed to have that conversation every time someone wants to kiss me? It puts me in such a horrible position and frankly makes me feel a bit yucky even though I’ve never done anything wrong, it’s just not nice.”
And I agree. What a horribly frustrating situation for all involved and again I can’t help but reflect on how innocently these viruses can be contracted. So is there a solution? Is there an easier, more convenient way of doing things or having those awkward conversations?
Well step forward, SextraSafe. SextraSafe refers its members to STD test centers for a standard STD panel of tests, often available for free. They verify their ID, profile photo and test results and for a small fee (a portion of which is donated to safe sex charities) they provide their members with verified and anonymous profiles which they can choose to share.
Business Development Manager Alex Williams goes on to explain: “with over 25 million daily matches on Tinder alone, online dating has never been more active. Unsurprisingly the Centers for Disease Control has been reporting cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis at its highest numbers ever. At SextraSafe we support safe sex through encouraging sexually active people to test for STDs and provide a platform to share verified test results anonymously.”
According to Planned Parenthood: “getting tested for STDs regularly is also part of safer sex, even if you always use condoms and feel totally fine. Most people with STDs don’t have symptoms or know they’re infected, and they can easily pass the infection to their partners. So testing is the only way to know for sure whether or not someone has an STD.”
This is exactly what happened to my Actress friend and when presented with the concept of SextraSafe she had this to say: “I’ll be honest, before this happened it’s not something I would’ve considered as I didn’t think it would be necessary, but personally I’ve learned a very tough lesson and it’s one I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through, so do yourself a favour and make use of something which ultimately allows all of us to stay safer and healthier – it’s a no brainer!”
How could anyone disagree? Dating is a minefield to say the least and most of it is completely out of our control, but what SextraSafe does is proves that this one little thing can be within our control and given the long-term implications of certain viruses, perhaps it’s the very thing that we need to have control over? I was delighted to stumble upon the launch of Sextrasafe as it’s something I can really throw my weight behind – never ever delay staying safe.
You can find out more information at SextraSafe.com or tweet them @SextraSafe.