Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Have an STD? Tell your Partner, with an E-Card

***Update: Many of you have been hitting this page in google while searching for STD information. While I encourage you to continue to read the article, afterwards try for more of the information you're looking for.***

Recently I read an almost frightening article that was in the Washington Post about how more and more people are breaking up with their partners via cell phone text message or email (Britney Spears apparently did that to "K-Fed").

Afraid she may not be the one? Give her an alternate number that forwards to your actual number so if things don't work out, you can just cancel it. Don't want to tell him "it's over" yourself? Use the "Breakup Butler" - a for fee service that lets you choose from several different types of messages: A "kind/gentler break up call", or a "ridiculous and semi-obnoxious break up call" that "gets the point across." You can choose the "Breakup Butler" or the "Breakup Bitch" depending on your preference or the method you wish to deliver the news. The website has a preview of both.

But what about those messages that are simply too hard to do? Don't worry, they have something for that also:

STD E-CARDS Launched in 2004 as a service for gay men seeking to notify past sex partners about exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, the e-cards are now available to anyone, according to Deb Levine, director of Internet Sexuality Information Services, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit that distributes the cards. They are similar to the e-greeting cards sent to celebrate birthdays and holidays, but instead they deliver news of potential exposure to an STD and advise the receiver to get tested.

"It's not what you brought to the party, it's what you left with," one card states. "I left with an STD. You might have, too. Get checked out soon." More than 80 percent of the cards are sent anonymously, and about 80 percent include an optional personal message, Levine said. The Web site gets about 750 unique visitors each day.

Levine said the cards are available free nationwide. But the site requires senders to click on a geographic region before selecting a card. That feature is simply to provide location-specific information for recipients who want to follow up with STD testing in their area, Levine said.

While I support inSPOTLA's goals with the E-card, I do think there has to be a better way than sending someone a fun card with a message that says, in essence: "Oh, by the way - you could have chlamydia."

Breaking up is hard to do. So is telling someone that their genitals may turn green and fall off. But I think we can all agree that it is probably a best practice to live with the mistakes you made and deal with the consequences yourself, rather than let an automated computer program do it for you.

(Photo from inSPOT LA)


Phalligator said...

hey, always glad to see folks blogging about inspot. I work at ISIS, the non-profit that created the service. You're right in that it's not an ideal way to hand over news of that type, however, it beats never telling the person at all, which happens too often.


Librocrat said...

I actually agree with you. But I still believe that it's better to take the stance that telling your partner face to face is still the best method. So, in essence, it's a GREAT idea that E-cards are available, but ideally no one should be supporting their use.

STD Nurse said...

As a public health nurse that advises people with postive STD test results, I can tell you these cards are a fantastic tool. I just got off the phone with a young woman (not the first one to tell me so) that she can't tell her partner she is positive because he will blame her for it, even though she has had no other partners. Inspot ROCKS for those that really can't tell their partners in person.

Librocrat said...

Listen, I would never, ever knock on either ISIS or InSpotLA. It is fantastic that they offer what they do. But an ecard is not only the least personal way to tell anyone anything important, it is an easily deleted, laughable way to tell anyone anything. Most of the time I don't even open birthday wish ecards let alone one as important as an STD test outcome.

InSpot and ISIS are fantastic for offering this program, but ideally it isn't used, because that is simply not a good way to tell anyone anything.

Forget everything about making sure someone is told at all - the part that makes it so dangerous is that it can be deleted at the click of a button, and there is no proof that it was ever received. if I had to tell an old partner I had AIDS and that she needed to get tested, I need to make sure she knows, and an e-card doesn't guarantee that.

Again, not at all a knock on ISIS, InSpot or even people that have STDs. If there is no other way, yes, by all means use an e-card. But there should in almost every case be another way, because there is an inherent risk in sending something as impersonal as an e-card to something as non-guaranteed as an email address.

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