Recap: Sex Ed for Grown-Ups with Jonathan Van Ness

When was the last time you attended a sex ed class? Whether it may have been in high school or a health course in college, your curiosity to learn more about sexual health probably didn’t end there. At Everlywell, we believe sex ed is always in session—and you deserve to take ownership of your body by embracing your healthy curiosities.

For Sexual Health Awareness Month, we partnered with Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness to normalize conversations around sexual health and destigmatize testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). JVN took over our Instagram to host a candid sex ed class with ER physician and frequent national TV health expert Dr. Darria. They answered some of the most frequently asked questions about sexual health, including how to tell a partner you have an STI and whether you can get the same STI twice.

If you missed the Instagram Live, don’t worry, we wrote this recap just for you! Read JVN and Dr. Darria’s conversation below. To rewatch the full recording on Instagram, click here.

Now to the Q&A:

How JVN manages life with HIV

JVN: "I’m HIV positive, that’s something I shared last year…with the grace of God and access to antiretroviral therapy and my doctor, my life hasn’t changed. In fact, I feel amazing. I take a pill a day and go see my doctor once every three months, just like most of us do to get tested.

If you had told me in my early twenties that I would be positive, I would have been terrified, I wouldn’t have been able to think of something worse. But not knowing is way worse."

Dr. Darria: "That’s why people don’t get tested. They’re afraid of the results, but it’s not a death sentence. There are ways to manage, treat, and even cure STIs. The only dangerous thing is not knowing."

JVN on experiencing sexual stigma and shame around getting tested

JVN: "I have experienced certain doctor’s offices where I’d be open and honest about the exposure I had that led me to get STD tested, and some doctors would respond by saying ‘Well, maybe you shouldn’t have done that in the first place’. For many people, maybe there isn’t a gender-affirming or sexual orientation-affirming clinic for you to go to which is why at-home lab tests have been useful."

Dr. Darria: "I think the number one search on Google is poop, followed by penis. That’s what people search for! I don’t care how people get their care, I just want them to get the best care possible."

Can you get STIs from oral sex? From kissing? Just from touch?

Dr. Darria: "You can get STIs and STDs from many other types of sex than just penetrative sex, like oral, and even from touch."

JVN: "You don’t have to do full penetration to get an STI, it can even happen with touch. Not to be a fearmonger, honey, but you don’t have to necessarily have fluid exchange - I’ve been there and done that. I was a very busy person in my twenties."

How do I tell my partner I have an STI?

JVN: "Just rip that band-aid off, honey. Just don’t lie. Don’t say it was the virgin conception of your chlamydia and gonorrhea. It’s bad enough to have it, but you don’t want to add gaslighting, too. That’s the trinity right there."

Dr. Darria: "Just come out with the facts without blame. The truth is, most people don’t know where they got it. Say, ‘I’m telling you because I value our relationship and want you to get tested, too.’"

What’s the craziest sex injury you’ve ever seen?

Dr. Darria: "People have these situations where things get stuck where it shouldn’t and they have to come to the ER. My tips are to not use glass (dildos and objects). It can get stuck where you don’t want it to get stuck."

Can you get the same STD twice?

Dr. Darria: "Yes. It depends on the STD. HIV, you only get once. Chlamydia, gonorrhea, many other STIs, you can certainly get twice."

Curious about how to stay on top of your sexual health and get tested for STIs? Read the Everlywell guide to STIs here. And if you’re tired of waiting rooms and expensive STI testing, learn more about our new sexual health membership, Current. Become a member and get access to one at-home STI lab test (such as an at-home HIV test) of your choice delivered to your door for under $15 each month.

JVN and Dr. Darria both agreed that taking ownership of your sexual health is an important step to improving your overall well-being. Understanding your body can make sex more enjoyable and keep you safe and healthy.

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