Sex and hooking up are both so easily accessible these days.
With apps such as Grindr, Scruff, and Tinder, it really is no wonder reports have shown a significant increase in STDs and guess what, officials are blaming social media.
But maybe, just maybe, not getting tested regularly can be to blame as well. Honestly, I have two out of the three apps listed above. I also have an extreme fear of needles, so I don’t get tested as often as I should. But, overall I consider myself to be a pretty responsible person with a good head on my shoulders. It’s the intoxicated version of me who’s the real troublemaker. He’s a slut. (No judgments! He’s single!)
So, with it being STD Awareness Month, there really was no better time (and no excuse!) to bite the bullet and get tested. And the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the testing services that Project LOL provides.
Project LOL, located within Hudson Pride Connections Center, is a safe place for the LGBT youth to hang out and to be themselves, but their services don’t stop there! Project LOL also provides free STD and HIV testing. Check out their testing schedules at the end of this article.
Now, I am forfeiting my confidentiality (and my dignity) for the sake of this article, so have no fear (unless you’re afraid of needles like I am), your test and your results will not only be free, they will also be 100% confidential!
First up was the HIV test. With just a prick of the finger, a 20 – 25 minute wait time, and a very open and honest Q&A (be prepared to feel like Samantha Jones in that episode of Sex and the City when she gets tested), you will have your results.
As we waited, I sat down with the Hyacinth Prevention Manager, Derrick, to talk shop on those pesky STDs:
Within the Jersey City area, have you noticed a rise in STDs?
Amongst our population of gay and bisexual men, there is an increase in Syphilis. And so, there is also an increase in a co-infection of HIV and Syphilis.
Syphilis is the really bad one, right? If it goes untreated, it can kill you?
Yes. The issue is most people get late detection. With Syphilis, most people are finding out in the second stage. They may not be symptomatic in the first stage. I can’t say I’ve necessarily seen an increase in the other STDs, but I can say people don’t get tested regularly.
How often should a sexually active person get tested?
For STDs, every three months, which should include a mouth and throat swab since STDs can lay dormant in your throat. If you have anal sex, an anal swab should be performed as well.
Generally speaking, how long does it take for an STD to show up on a test?
I would say most people would become symptomatic within five to ten days. Most of the time, depending on what the STD is, you can get the burning or a tingling sensation as early as five days.
Are there always symptoms involved? If you do have an STD, are there always tell-tale signs you have one?
No. If there is an infection in the penis, it may be a lot easier to detect. If an STD is lying dormant in the throat or the rectum, there really are no indications.
What’s the protocol if a test comes back positive for an STD?
The person will have to come back in here for their results. So, if a test came back positive, we would refer them for treatment. That information will also be reported to the STD Health Department and they’ll find you.
That sounds threatening. What do they do? Do they put you in STD jail?!
No, they just want to make sure you get treatment.
Most treatments entail medication?
Yes, a pill and a shot.
For me, the real shocker of that entire conversation, which hit me like a ton of dicks bricks, was finding out STDs can lay dormant in your throat and rectum. Clearly, I was not paying attention in sex education, because I didn’t think you could even get sexual infections or diseases in those regions. (Although, it does make perfect sense to me now) But, in my defense, where I attended school, sex ed was administered in the fifth grade, which is a tad bit too young if you ask me. I was eleven. I was more concerned with what life lesson the Tanner girls were going to learn on the upcoming episode of Full House than I was with contracting Gonorrhea in my throat.
After I breathed a huge sigh of relief with my negative HIV test result, I met with Nurse John who administered the STD portion of the testing. Nurse John made me feel comfortable from the very beginning. My only gripe: he wanted more of my blood. But he did his best to allay my fear of needles. Another finger prick for the rapid Hepatitis C test, a couple of vials of blood and a urine sample is all I needed to give up for this one. And in two weeks, I’ll have my STD results. Before departing Project LOL with my goody bag chock full of condoms and lube, I found out I passed another test – my Hep C was negative. Here’s hoping I pass the STDs with flying colors as well. Fingers crossed!
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this. I recently stumbled upon a quote from someone which read, “You can’t get an STD if you never get tested.” I guess for some, ignorance is bliss. But ignorance can also kill you. Hello, Syphilis!
Don’t be ignorant. Get tested.
32 Jones St
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Follow them on Instagram @projectlol
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Every Tuesday 1pm – 4pm
Monday through Thursday 12pm – 8pm
Friday 10am – 6pm
Call or text 955-77 to schedule an appointment