Confession is harmful if it's obligatory

Today I found out that in some laboratories, when you want to get your blood tested for HIV/HCV/syphilis/etc. (for free and anonymously), you do not have to go to confession about your sexual life. It was a great surprise for me, because whenever I did such tests, I always got to fill out a questionnaire about what, when, how many times, and with how many guys I did it. And then I had to further elaborate in a face-to-face conversation with some stranger.

For me it may not be a big problem. For most Berliners probably neither. Here it’s not a shame to tell someone you’re gay, and not that big of a shame to admit how promiscuous you are.

But when you are a catholic gay boy who is afraid of what would people say, who still believes (or has only just stopped believing) that sex with a guy is a serious sin (and even if not, it is still very awkward discuss your sex life with anyone) – then the problem starts to get more problematic.

You should get tested regularly every three months. But if you don’t have any symptoms, if nothing is wrong with you, if there is nothing urgent about it, however doing the test involves going through emotional tortures – will you decide to go there at all?

It is good that organizations fighting HIV want to have as many anonymous statistics on human sexual behavior as they can – but the main goal should be to have the least number of infections in the first place. It is good that the doctor wants to know as much as possible about the patient in order to best advise him – but he should rather not advise at all than to have the patient not come.

If we started a laboratory visit with an information that the survey / interview is completely voluntary, and we asked for a consent to participate in it, how many more people would choose to come?

I would prefer it if 20 people voluntarily filled in the questionnaire, and 80 did not, rather than if 40 people filled it in out of coercion, but the other 60 decided not to come at all...

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About the author

Hi! I'm Andrea (they/them). I tell computers what to do, both for a living and for fun, I'm also into blogging, writing and photography. I'm trying to make the world just a little bit better: more inclusive, more rational and more just.

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