Two Eggs and Bacon, With a Side of STBBIs: How to Talk About Group Screening in a Laid Back Way

Allow me to set the scene: we’re in a restaurant. Better yet, we’re out on the shaded terrace of one of our apartments. It’s just humid enough to make you want to sip homemade mimosas with friends somewhere between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The whole gang’s together. I have warmed up some croissants, our friend Caroline has made veggie cretons, and you are sharing your recommendations for osteopaths and queer-friendly clinics. We show each other memes. We laugh. We talk about our steamy nights from last month. I say, “Ooooh, who is that? Is this a new situation? Tell me eeeeeeeverything! Caroline takes another bite of cretons and says, “Did you get tested?”

It takes you by surprise.

You make a funny face.

The implicit Sunday meal rule has just been broken: Caroline has burst your hanky panky bubble. At least that’s what you tell yourself. You think to yourself: “My brunch-loving friends should wish me as much carnal pleasure as I desire! You’re right, and we do. Caro and I wish you all the hot and sweaty passionate sex… but, just like a steaming cup of coffee, it’s better to test the goods before bringing them to your lips.

I put my hand on your shoulder and say, “Do you want us to go together? I am also due for a screening.”

I say this nonchalantly, like a girl reminding you to pay your rent because it’s the first of the month. You smile. Your shoulders relax. “It’s true,” you say. “It really is a good idea.

We take out our cells and book an appointment. Caro too. We each finish our third cup of filter coffee. It’s hot. Humid. We talk about our desire to lay our tongues on fresh bodies. I talk about wanting to suck a penisicle..

Now that’s what I call a successful brunch!

It’s not my intention to force you to eat at my table or even to like brunch, but summer is coming and I’d like us to remember that encouraging those around us to get tested regularly is a pretty sweet way of saying I love you. The sun looks good on you. In the end, reminding our friends that they should think about their next screening appointment is simply telling them: “I like you better when you’re healthy and worry-free.”

We don’t always feel comfortable talking about sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs). It sure is more fun to have brunch and tell each other stories about guys slipping on lube than it is to make an appointment at a clinic to have a Q-tip rub the back of our throats, concentrate and aim for the pee cup, or have to exit the sampling booth twice because the iPad is glitchy.. Sure, but… why not do both?

Brunch and STBBI testing. The new wine and dine.

I’m not naive. Not everyone is as comfortable as I am talking about sex. I know that the toughest part is often just figuring out how to start the conversation. So, here are a few ideas, on the fly, of how to bring up the subject:

  1. Use delicious puns to make your friends’ mouths water. Here’s one on the house: “Oh yeeeaaah! Your crush is as hot as my coffee. Wouldn’t it cool things down if you didn’t get tested?”
  2. Nonchalantly share a piece of wisdom: “Firmly believing that you don’t have an STBBI is never as effective as an actual test result… Just my two cents.”
  3. If in doubt, mix in some guacamole. It’s always a winner: “I’m buying extra guacamole for the person who most recently got tested.”
  4. When reluctance is palpable, going to the clinic as a group can be less scary and less stressful. It’s the same as organizing a brunch, only with more Q-tips… Why not organize a brunch after getting tested? That way, you’re guaranteed to have fun! You can even get a bonus brunch out of it if you coordinate your test result calls.

While I highly recommend adding scrambled eggs and crispy bacon to your conversation, it can just as easily be done between shots of tequila, in traffic, or on the metro. The important thing is not to be ashamed to talk about it together, especially to speak in the first person. Apparently, this works for all conversations. I swear! Look, I’ll show you.

When was the last time you got tested? I, Ève Landry, got tested one March afternoon and I’m going back in a week. Are you afraid to go? I, the girl who has the same name as an actress, admit that I hate blood tests. I always get the sensation that I’m going to pass out. It doesn’t take long, but it startles me when the needle goes under my skin. There.

See? Talking in the first person wasn’t so tough after all.

On the other hand, buckle up, because if you start having these conversations, I’m sure that, like me, you’ll hear EXCELLENT BAD REASONS not to get tested. Like: He’s a guy I know very well. 🚩 Or: We only fooled around for fifteen minutes. 🚩 Or: She said she didn’t have any other partners. 🚩 When you know that STBBIs often present no symptoms, getting tested is just plain good sense. It takes 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes for peace of mind is not long at all! Be convinced: getting tested is the right thing to do for them, for yourself, and for everyone.

Also, it’s the perfect timing because… we’re in the middle of DépistaFest! We have a large list of partner clinics that you can visit with your friends.

To conclude, here are the Club’s favourite brunch places: