Anonymous clicks can carry medical risks.(BROOKE FASANI/CORBIS)As anyone who has clicked the "Casual Encounters" link in the Personals section of Craigslist knows, the Internet is awash with sexual pickup action, from Los Angeles to Bangalore. It's about as anonymous as it can get and, of course, carries risks for anyone who partakesstraight or gay. Here's one story of a lesson learned.
Nick (not his real name) is a 27-year-old screenwriter from L.A. who was diagnosed with chlamydia and gonorrhea when he was 24. He thinks he got both from performing unprotected oral sex on a man he had met online and arranged a casual sex date with.
"About two weeks later I started having to pee frequently and had a feeling that I had to go," Nick remembers. "I asked a friend who had chlamydia in the past what to look for. I didn't get the full range of symptomsI didn't have any discharge."
Nick went to the doctor and was treated with antibiotics. "I figured I'd take this as an opportunity. I decided to be more careful about my future behavior. I definitely felt relieved that it was just something that antibiotics could take care of rather than something I would have to continue to deal with."
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But anonymous means just that: anonymous
There was no way for Nick to contact the person who had infected him, and who is probably infecting others. And while Nick says he's now more careful in his own sexual behavior, he says, "in all honesty, negotiating condoms with casual partners is something I'm still figuring out how to do. For that reason I've ended up toning that part of my sex life down until I can figure it out."
The importance of a good doctor
Nick had taken the time before this incident to find a doctor who was understanding and easy to talk to. "I searched on www.glma.org and found a gay doctor who was comfortable with gay health issues. He specializes in internal medicine and infectious disease. I did not feel embarrassed at all speaking with him. In contrast I'd had another physician who could barely ask me about oral sex without sweating, and I decided to no longer go to him."