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A Bit Derpy With the Herpie

| Working | June 25, 2016

(I’ve been having breathing problems and suspect I may have pneumonia. I set up an appointment with a new doctor, hoping to get a referral for a chest X-ray. I am in my late teens at the time and have never had a sexual or romantic partner. The doctor comes into the exam room, pulls up a chair, and sits uncomfortably close to me.)

Doctor: “Are you sexually active?”

Me: “No…”

Doctor: “Have you ever been tested for herpes?”

Me: *a little surprised* “No… I’ve never been sexually active. I’ve just been having some breathing problems and chest pain lately, and I was hoping I could—”

Doctor: “So you’ve never had a partner who was infected with herpes?”

Me: “Um, no, ma’am. I’ve never had sex.”

Doctor: “Have you kissed anyone who had herpes?”

Me: *shyly* “I’ve never kissed anybody, period.”

Doctor: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Very.”

Doctor: *slowly standing up, going through my file as she speaks* “Well, you know, herpes is a very easy virus to contract. Most young people your age don’t realize how serious it can be. And it’s on the rise now, did you know that?”

Me: “No… I didn’t.”

Doctor: “Most people don’t! So you’re sure you’ve never had herpes?”

Me: “I’m sure. Can we talk about my breathing problem?”

Doctor: “Sure.”

(She goes about a routine exam, listens to my lungs, etc. After a moment she types something up in her computer, then comes back to sit right in front of me.)

Doctor: “All right, I’m sending in a referral for you to have a chest x-ray. Your lungs are a little buggy, but the x-ray will confirm whether or not there’s any infection.”

Me: “Great. Thank—”

Doctor: “I think I should refer you for an STD screening, too.”

Me: “That’s really not necessary. I’ve never had sex.”

Doctor: *not really listening at this point* “Are you sure? Herpes is a very easy virus to contract. And if you have sex with someone who’s infected, there’s really no way to protect yourself. I mean…” *she stands up, begins making absurd hand gestures* “…you’d basically need something like a big wet suit, with a tiny hole cut out here…” *she gestures to her groin* “so the penis can get in, and then maybe, just MAYBE, you’d be able to keep the herpes out. But even that’s no guarantee. It’s a big problem. It’s very serious. I think you should be screened.”

Me: *kind of stunned* “No, that’s not necessary. No. I don’t have herpes, ma’am.”

Doctor: “Are you sure? Even if the penis barely penetrates—”

Me: “I’m a lesbian.”

Doctor: “Lesbians can get herpes, too, let me tell you! Even with a wet suit!”

Me: “I haven’t had sex, ma’am. I don’t need a screening. I don’t have herpes!”

Doctor: “You’re sure?!”

Me: “YES!”

(She begrudgingly drops it, writes up my referral, and sends me out to the lobby where my dad is waiting. We get back in the car to head home when he turns to me to ask how the appointment went.)

Dad: “Do you like your new doctor?”

Me: “Um. She’s kind of strange.”

Dad: “How so?”

Me: “I think she’s under the impression that everyone has herpes. She wouldn’t stop talking about herpes.”

Dad: *after a beat of silence* “We’ll find you a new doctor.”

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