Social Question

nikipedia's avatar

(NSFW) This is a two part question about diseases and protection.

Asked by nikipedia (27300 points ) October 19th, 2011

1. Suppose a woman goes to see a doctor for a women’s health issue unrelated to STDs. The doctor takes a history, and the woman reports that she has been having regular sexual intercourse with a male partner and uses the pill for contraception. She is not in any high risk groups for HIV transmission.

Is it appropriate for the doctor to strongly and repeatedly encourage this patient to use condoms with her partner to protect her from getting an STD from her partner? On the one hand, it is true that condoms are helpful in preventing against STDs. But on the other, this is common knowledge, any sexual contact is a calculated risk, and this case involves a pretty minute amount of risk.

2. Are there value judgments associated with STDs, and if so, are they reasonable? With a few important exceptions, STDs are largely curable. Do we, as a culture, overreact to the possibility of getting STDs? Do you, on a personal level, make a value judgment about someone getting an STD that you wouldn’t make about another contagious illness?

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11 Answers

tedd's avatar

1)Doctors will always urge you to use condoms, even if you are in a monogamous relationship. I’ve had them smash it into my head even though I relayed to them that I was dating a girl who was a virgin prior to myself. Basically they’re assuming that every person out there not their patient, is a lying, cheating, evil SOB… and they want you to protect yourself from the STD’s they surely carry. There could be some real cause for concern if your partner hasn’t been tested since any previous partners he may have had. Men show virtually no symptoms of some STD’s.

2) They are curable, but the best way to eradicate them is to stop their spread in the first place. Not to mention the diseases will grow immunities to many of our cures if we have to keep using them.

Facade's avatar

1) I suppose it’s the doctors’ jobs to enforce good health practices, but I personally hate when doctors try to force contraception on me. I almost want to lie and say that my SO and I do use condoms, and I am on birth control just to get them to shut up about it. Ideally, adults know about “protection,” and they also know whether or not they want to utilize it.
2) I think people do overreact about most STDs. They use it as a means to judge people they feel are “loose.” Since it’s so easy to contract an STD, you’d think people would treat it like any other contagious illness as you suggested.

zenvelo's avatar

The basic shift in thinking about STDs in the last 30 years is “you’re not practicing safe sex”. Before the AIDS crisis, if you picked up an STD, people inferred skanky behavior. Back then most people thought of STDs as syphilis and gonorrhea.

But since AIDS, people have also become much more aware of other STDS – herpes, chlamydia, HPV, Hep C.

So I am not surprised at a doctor pushing condoms regardless of your contraceptive choices. I would be a bit put out if he knows you are in a long term monogamous relationship.

Blackberry's avatar

Yes, I think it’s appropriate for the doctor to encourage condom use, although I can see how it may be offensive for them to do it strongly and repeatedly. Just like a doctor tells someone to stay away from sodium or some other random advice, it seems like it’s part of their job.

Yes, I admit I’ve made value judgments about STDs. It’s pretty hypocritical of me of think it’s gross if someone has an STD just because I haven’t received one. I know people don’t go looking for them, and I knew someone who wasn’t told about it and now has herpes forever, so I’m not really in the business of thinking anyone who has caught one is dirty slutbag.

Sometimes when people makes jokes about someone that appears slutty, it’s customary to make jokes that assume he or she may have an STD.

marinelife's avatar

Strongly and repeatedly? The doctor has an agenda here that seems to exceed medicine.

Two regular, exclusive partners who have been tested should be free not to use condoms.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If the woman is under 30 then the doctor will probably advise condoms regularly because the incidences of HPV are so high for her age group. The doctor will probably advise if the woman is single, regardless if she states she has a steady partner because you never know what the other partner is up to- it’s assumed that marriages are sexually monogamous.

When I’ve been single, my worry wasn’t so much about being in a high risk group for HIV as was my huge fear of HPV, herpes and genital warts and maybe the doctors look at it similarly.

bkcunningham's avatar

The only time a doctor has suggested condoms to me (and it wasn’t strongly and repeatedly advised) was after a stillbirth and after a couple of miscarriages. Also, I was advised to get my husband to use condoms after I’d gone off the pill when I started full-blown menapause. Either condoms are talk to him about getting it clipped.

I’ve only known a handful of women who admitted to me that they had a STD. Judgement call? I don’t know. The ones that told me talked to me about the particular STD. My concern was that they be very careful in the future and tell their partners the potential risks in the cases where it was warranted.

Hibernate's avatar

1. It’s highly recommended. I mean what sort of doctor wouldn’t tell his patients not to take safety measures.
2. A few. But it’s not because it’s not curable .. you can infect others if you have more than one partner.

flutherother's avatar

The doctor seems to be assuming the partner has an STD in which case the advice is justified. If it isn’t known then it is easy to find out. I think it makes sense to take STD’s seriously, they can be treated with antibiotics but it is better to avoid getting one in the first place.

Judi's avatar

They were not so adamant abiout it unti AIDS came along. There was a short time after the pill was invented and before AIDS emerged when there was a lot of sexual freedom. There was still a lot of social stigma though.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well they’re probably speaking from experience…after hearing tons of people say ‘oh we’re totes monogamous, promise and he’d never cheat on me, blah blah blah’ and then come get tx for STDs, they probably figure they should tell you to…I don’t think it’s necessary to do so, though, at a time when your issue for which you’re seeking help has little to do with that.

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