TikToker Chris Olsen uses humor – and his platform of nearly 10 million followers – to talk openly about sexual health.
In a recent video post, Olsen, 25, shared a hilarious story about going for a routine STI test, during which he revealed he had tested positive for chlamydia three times. in the past. (STIs, short for sexually transmitted infections, are spread through sexual contact; when left untreated, they can turn into a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
“So I’ve had chlamydia three times – ending the stigma,” Olsen began in the video in a pleasant tone, referring to the treatable STI which is the most commonly reported bacterial infectious disease in the United States. United, according to the CDC. Then the social media star, who identifies as gay, offhandedly shared that the nurse who drew his blood during his recent visit tried to try and set him up with his gay son.
“I’m like, ‘OK, rewind it, rewind it. What’s his name ? “, he said in the video. “Because I know my hacking skills can find this man in a second. As she left, she told me her name. When I found this man on Instagram, I found out he was the ex of one of the men who ghosted me last year — and in their story they’re hanging out.
The story, however, had a happy ending.
“Anyway, she just called me and I don’t have chlamydia this time, so little wins!” he said.
Responses to the video were overwhelming, with many commenters praising Olsen’s bravery for being open about his STI story without layering it with the stigma, shame and fear that are so often attached to disclosure stories.
Singer-songwriter Jewel even weighed in, writing, “Omg I love you.”
“Congratulations on your test results! Congratulations on being responsible too! added a follower.
“We love a queen who takes care of herself!” another fan added, referencing Olsen’s post to routinely get tested for STIs.
“It was a rollercoaster but yay no chlamydia,” one commenter commented, while another added, “You know what! I never loved you more than me rn!!!”
“I thought I was stubborn but I bow to someone who could go through this 3x and not give up on dating me,” another wrote.
why is it important
The truth is that sexually transmitted infections are quite common, with the CDC presuming that “1 in 5 Americans” will be diagnosed with an STI in their lifetime; other sources, including the Kaiser Family Foundation, put that even higher, estimating that more than half of people in the United States will have an STI in their lifetime.
Meanwhile, positive cases hit a record high for the sixth consecutive year in 2019, with more than 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported that year – and half of all new cases of STIs found in young adults ages 15 to 24, according to the CDC. Although this has significantly decreased during the pandemic due to social distancing, at the end of 2020 (the most recent statistics available), cases of STIs like gonorrhea and syphilis continued to rise. Yet many find the subject too taboo to discuss.
That’s why Olsen’s video is so important, says Jenelle Marie Pierce, board chair of the STI Project, an organization that aims to de-stigmatize STIs through sex education, and a spokesperson for the dating site. Positive Singles. She argues that telling personal stories in such an open and accessible way – with humor, if possible – creates a good model for how young people can have complicated conversations about sexual health.
“What I love most about this video is the casual conversation that takes place between the influencer and the audience, which isn’t much different from a typical disclosure conversation,” Pierce told Yahoo. Life. “In a way it’s serious, yes, but it can also be fun and affirming. It’s a dialogue where information is shared and decisions are made, and then hopefully it’s fun. What’s not to love about that, is there?”
Often, conversations around STI disclosure are “shrouded in a lot of trepidation, fear, ethics and morality,” she notes. And while some of that fear and shame is unavoidable, what people often forget is that disclosure can be just a conversation between partners — which Olsen’s candor demonstrates.
See examples of celebrities being fearless, shameless — and, more importantly, responsible — encouraging their followers to get routine STI tests every “three to six months” if they’re sexually active with multiple partners, per CDC guidelines, it matters, especially when it comes to dismantling the stigmatizing language around STIs.
“I think it’s wonderful to see people with big platforms discussing their chlamydia diagnosis — and there should be even more people talking about it, because we know many are familiar with this diagnosis,” Pierce says. (There were more than 1.6 million chlamydia diagnoses in 2021 alone, according to the CDC.)
“Unsurprisingly, we don’t have a lot of benchmark examples,” adds Pierce, noting that, historically, public disclosure has had its fair share of criticism, due to stigma and misinformation.
“Anne Heche was basically blacklisted when she spoke of contracting herpes after being sexually assaulted,” Pierce said. “We often only hear about celebrities with genital herpes as a conjecture, or after lawsuits have been filed, as in Usher’s case. Jonathan Van Ness shared his HIV-positive status and was applauded for his transparency and its authenticity, as it should be, “although other celebrities don’t fare as well, like Charlie Sheen.
Yet the impact of these celebrities on their audiences is profound and cannot be underestimated.
“Some of the most common Google searches are ‘celebrities with herpes’, ‘celebrities with HIV’, ‘celebrities with STDs’ etc,” said Pierce, an STI stigma reduction advocate in line. “People are desperate to find someone they look up to who has had a similar experience because getting an STI can be one of the most isolating experiences in a person’s life.”
That’s why, she adds, it’s so important for people to share their stories.
“It has the power to change the whole perception someone has of themselves,” she says. “While celebrities are powerful, and finding celebrities with STDs is a common search term, it’s important not to underestimate the importance of sharing our individual experiences with people we love and in whom we love. “We trust. The vast majority of all people get an STI at some point in their life, which means someone you know, respect and love has an STI.”
The more comfortable we feel about sharing our experiences with each other, the more we realize that they are shared and that we are not alone, she adds.
“You want to approach these conversations from a place of authenticity and vulnerability and sometimes part of authenticity is admitting that you don’t know all the answers, or laughing at yourself because it’s just awkward conversation,” Pierce says. “It’s okay because it shows that you’re human, that you can relate, and that you’re growing and learning with them.”
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