My inner STD

Reporter Joshua Tan felt that to write anything relevant on sexually transmitted diseases, one first has to contract an STD. He searched high and low for people dealing with genital warts, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, and even AIDS, and offered to share their pain with them — unfortunately, no one would schedule a “sharing” session. But our puckish reporter did not give up. He asked himself, “Maybe I was born with chlamydia?” and so began a long, epic journey to find his inner STD.



The rain drizzled down in cold, quick droplets as I raced down Hillhouse. I hurdled a five-foot long puddle and dodged a car as I crossed the street in front of Dunham. Through the thick, waving foliage of yellowing green, I could piece out the distant windows of DUH. I was near, I was nearing, I could feel it in my heart — thump, thump, thump.

I blasted through the glass double-doors, gave a flick of my wet, cowlicked hair to the receptionist, and ran for the elevator. I pushed through a thick, mulish crowd of old people and jumped through the closing doors just before they came together with a pneumatic whoosh.

I was pumped. This was it: my turn, my chance to discover the STD within! The music was with me.

“Underneath your clothes, there’s an endless story, there’s the man I chose, there’s my territory…”

Thump, thump, thump-thump.

I arrived at Student Medicine about 20 minutes late. But it was all right, because (1) I had called to confirm that I was arriving, (2) Friday afternoons are usually backlogged anyway, and (3) I think I got sympathy points for forgetting an umbrella and showing up completely soaked.

But I had to wait 30 minutes before the doctor would see me, so they couldn’t have been too sympathetic. After reading through Time’s “Ann Coulter: Ms. Right” article twice, I finally was let into the doctor’s office.

And the doctor did not disappoint my hopes for clinical awkwardness. I was peppered with questions like “Have you ever experienced genital-genital contact, as in when you put your penis in a woman’s vagina” and “Even penis to anus contact?”

As the doctor questioned me, I was trying to decide what test I should get: should I opt for a blood test for AIDS and herpes, a urine test for chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea, or maybe ask to be physically examined for warts?

But I was in for a disappointment. It seems that those who have never had “genital-oral” or “genital-genital” contact have little to no risk of having an STD.

“So you wouldn’t recommend having a test?”

“… No.”

But come on, this is Yale. Every other person here probably has some kind of STD. Shouldn’t I get a test just as a preventive measure?

The answer was, once again, no. Evidently, the rates of STDs here are about the same as the national average, the doctor said. Some students actually think there are very few people at Yale with STDs. But no: it seems that AIDS doesn’t care what school you got into.

But back to me. Since I had never received a blood transfusion before, I couldn’t even use that as an excuse to get a test. I did, however, receive a bundle of brochures before the doctor showed me out the door. Plus — get this — I was told to check out whether or not I had really had my hepatitis-B shots, because my physician back home hadn’t marked it on my medical record.

I had to try one last time though. Couldn’t I at least have some kind of urine test? I always wanted to be treated like some creatine-pumped athlete down on his luck. But once again, the doctor said no.

It kind of sucked, especially since I had been holding it in since morning.

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