I see educational posts about STI’s every now and again. I think that education is excellent. While I’m no expert, I think the current method of showing video slides of worse-case outbreaks is the kind of public information that can really hurt people. Yes, that’s what my now-21-year-old reported as his sex-ed from high school.
So my main concern when reading such educational material is the lack of information in them (and elsewhere!) regarding the intersection of a supressed or deficient immune systems and potential increased risk for STI’s.
After asking some curious questions and finding very little information, I hit up “teh googles.”
I should probably start with some background.
My partner, my Dominant, my Master, my Daddy, my love without end which encompasses my being, is immunosuppressed from an organ transplant many years ago. What this means for us: when people have sniffles or sick kids, even when they may not present visible symptoms, he can end up with a worse-than-average childhood disease that he shouldn’t be able to contract past age six.
In the most recent event, that specific disease was viral, and fortunately ran its course in a normal time frame. Unfortunately, the effects were on the severe end of the scale during its run and he still experiences the fallout even months later.
Other times it is as simple as a coworker coming in to work with a cough, and him fighting bronchitis for the next six to eight weeks, usually with multiple courses of antibiotics required.
Even dental work can require preventative antibiotics for him, and simple cuts must be watched closely to be sure they heal properly.
Why is this relevant in a Kink-related discussion? Multiple reasons. We interact with immunodeficient individuals more often than we realize. Having diabetes or auto-immune diseases, being an organ transplant recipient or HIV positive are all examples of ways someone can have a compromised immune system, though some may have a more obviously extreme effect than others.
It means my partner and any other immunocompromised individual is at risk any time they attend an event if someone is attending who is carrying airborne germs. Obviously, that likelihood increases when they directly interacts with someone who is contagious, but as long as a virus is capable of being transmitted in active form, it has the potential to infect.
If an infection is transmitted via blood, such as a nick or scratch, my partner is at a much higher risk than someone with a healthy immune system. This makes casual play very ill-advised for him, particularly in a public venue where he is more exposed, meaning his play tends to be limited to close friends he has spent a great deal of time getting to know.
It also takes casual sex off of the table. While there are transmissible STI’s which are curable, his immunosuppressed status makes it more likely that he would experience side effects which are more severe than the average person’s. They also mean he would be fighting them off much longer.
STI’s which are not curable are an even bigger threat. Transplant patients who have caught HPV have experienced such extreme constant outbreaks that one reported having to have the growths lasered off yearly. When her medications were adjusted and she seemed to be improving, her body began to reject her transplanted organ. Her choice is to live with a condition which limits her sexual pleasure and feelings of self worth, or risk death again in attempts to combat the infection. According to her interview, she was contemplating complete removal of her outer labia as a possible solution.
While I was unable to find any additional accounts of individuals with other lifelong STI’s, given the potential risk to an immunodeficient individual, the kink world presents significant hazards. This is not to say that these risks do not exist outside of kink, merely that we, as practitioners, have things which must be taken into account when dealing with others.
Individuals who are at risk need to inform partners at the outset, so that proper precautions can be taken. While some STI’s are only transmitted via bodily fluids, HPV can be transmitted simply by contact with the genital area, and condoms will not protect from infection. This makes it all the more important for individuals who are positive for STI’s to disclose this information and allow partners to make informed decisions. In some cases there is much less risk when dealing with those who have healthy immune systems than with someone who immunodeficient.
Honesty. Integrity. Understanding.
Part of what we do in the BDSM community is risk assessment. Understanding that some individuals have different requirments when assessing risk for interactions is just as important as being to make compassionate, understanding and informed decisions about potential partners.
About the Author
Christmas bunny has been exploring kink since she was legal to do so. Her serious writing started in college, where she accidently got some of her papers published in educational journals. She has recently expanded her writing to include her kink journey. She began writing in the physical realm, but shed some of her inhibitions and began sharing those entries with others. She now keeps an active blog of her personal growth and her relationship with her Master / Daddy Dominant and writes helpful educational posts on a variety of subjects.