You’ve Got Mail… and maybe an STD?

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Unfortunately, in today’s society, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are more commonplace than what we would want them to be. The reality is that an estimated one in five people in the United States is living with an STD and one in four people will have an STD at some point in his or her life. With such a high occurrences of STDs, chances are if you are having unprotected sex or promiscuous sex, you are increasing your chances of receiving one of inSpot’s newest website additions: free ecards to encourage you to go get checked out.

The premise of the free ecard service is to encourage people to tell previous partners about having possibly given them an STD. InSpot offers several suggestions about speaking with a previous partner about the possibly contraction of an STD because the organization realizes people may feel too embarrassed or nervous. However, if an individual feels they just cannot do it, that they cannot muster up the strength to make the face-to-face connection, there is always the option of clicking the ecard button and selecting one of six designs to break the dreadful news.

As a future sex educator, I do not deny the fact that the more people who take the initiative to tell previous partners about a potential STD, the more likely society will be able to get the STD rates in check. Considering many STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis, and Chlamydia are treatable, if people were told to get checked out, more STDs would be treated. In turn, this would lower the overall cases of STDs in the world.

Knowing is half the battle, right?

Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder how many of these ecards are sent as a bad joke to a college buddy or how many are sent to needlessly scare an old girlfriend? I filled out the form relatively easily and was given the option to send the card to six people. I even had the option to send the card anonymously. In four easy steps, I sent a card to myself stating, “I got screwed while screwing, you might have too.”

Aside from the unknown number of bad jokes sent out from the website, how healthy is it to allow an individual to anonymously notify people of an STD? Does this new service instill any sense of accepting responsibility for our actions? Could it possibly make it easier to pass on STDs because the card sender never has to look someone in the face and tell them “I may have given you HIV?” The concept of accepting responsibility only truly changes our actions if we are intrinsically affected by feelings of guilt or remorse for what we have done. A child who is disciplined for secretly stealing and eating a cookie before dinner will only not do it again if he or she feels true remorse for the behavior. Is it possible that an individual who can hide behind a computer and never face seeing the result of his or her behavior will never truly feel remorseful? This would cause the individual to continue needing the ecard service because they continue to spread the illness. Is this truly the most effective way to help people notify others about a potential STD?

Considering the service is relatively new to many states, these are questions that have yet to be answered. These questions need answers – yet how do we get them answered?

Now, if you will excuse me – I have mail….. and Chlamydia!

Oh, wait, that was just my test ecard.