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Lies, Pride, and STI’s
The 42-year-old porn actor, who uses the name Mr. Marcus, told Adult Video News (AVN) he went to his personal doctor when he felt sick on July 11. The doctor ran tests, and the next day learned Mr. Marcus tested positive for syphilis. The following day, he was given a penicillin shot and told to abstain from sex. But anxious to ‘get back to work’ he was unaware that syphilis was still in his system. Eleven days after he got treatment, Mr. Marcus shot a sex scene. He says the producer didn’t check his name in the Talent Testing Service (TTS) database, only asked to see a physical proof of his test results.
Mr. Marcus showed an adult film producer a copy on his cell phone, but admits he hid the part that showed he had tested positive for syphilis.“I showed that my HIV was clear, my gonorrhea and chlamydia were fine. You didn’t see the syphilis part of the test because of the way I showed it.”
Marcus confessed after reports surfaced of a syphilis outbreak among porn performers, prompting a 10-day halt in filming. No partners of Mr. Marcus tested positive for the sexually transmitted infection (STI).“I don’t feel that was a mistake,” he said. “I was treated. I allowed the medicine to take effect, and I wanted to proceed as normal. I wanted to go back to work as usual.”
Moreover data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documents primary and secondary syphilis cases among black men 15 to 24 years of age continue to increase significantly; from 2005-2009, syphilis cases increased more than 150% among young black men.
There is nothing new about the call for honesty in relationships. How many men and women have become infected with HIV or another STI because of a partners’ infidelity? Whether its HIV or another STI, it’s critical for Black men and women to be vigilant about protecting ourselves. I worked in clinics where STI tests were offered and I have heard clients say that their partners told them prior to having sex that “I don’t have anything and have papers to prove it”. Sounds good, right? Because the proclamation was made it was assumed to be true and the papers somehow were never shown. Sadly, the clients are then in the office seeking treatment. But when you think how easy it is to falsify any document, this should not be seen as a free ticket to ride at your carnival.
A sure way to encourage foster relationship transparency and honesty is to get tested and get the results together. There are few guarantees but also talking to your partner about prior sexual behaviors, infections, etc. is key. It’s hard but it has to happen. Fear of a partner leaving, arguments, etc. have to be considered along with your own health. Is it worth it to blindly trust a companion when it comes to possibly exposing you to an incurable infection?
Try these ‘conversation starters’ with your partner to encourage testing together:
- “You and I are talking about intimate, that’s serious, and so is an sexually transmitted infection”
- “It’s important for me to take care of myself and you too – we’ve both been with other people”
- “It’s not about trust; it’s about peace of mind for both of us; Seeing is believing”
- “I trust you, but I don’t trust the person you were with before me – this is just too important”
The best way someone can love you is to help you take care of your health, so feel empowered to ask for what you deserve. Remember this isn’t just for you, but for your partner’s protection as well. Free STI testing sites are available in every jurisdiction so no excuses. This is the only body you have, take care of it and treat it well.
Mr. Steven Hayes is a trained sociologist and social worker. He’s also an Adjunct Professor interested in applying his skills and experience to life skills trainings and life coaching. He contributes to healthyblackmen.org on a variety of topics. Tweet him @askandknow.