Can a doctor stay employed with an std?
February 24, 2016 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Just asking because my boyfriend is a doctor and says he is clean (my heart trusts him but my head wants him to take a test.)

He is extremely busy working with a "doctors without borders" type rotation and does not remain in a country long enough to do a full panel and receive the report. We tried it and he had to fly out to Jordan the day after his test.

I want to know if in general if a doctor can be employed with stds. He has not made this claim, I just want to sleep with him.
posted by squirbel to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by phunniemee at 6:34 PM on February 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

Why does he have to be in a country to get the report? Why can't they email it or fax it to him or whatever? This is a bad sign. Of course he can stay employed with an STD.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:37 PM on February 24, 2016 [36 favorites]

Yes. There are also plenty of STD testors that will give a patient the results without them having to come in (for a variety of reasons). He is not the first patient to have that problem.
posted by Karaage at 6:38 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Follow your head. And don't forget that standard panels usually don't include testing for HSV (herpes), so that test should be specifically requested as well. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

I do not understand the correlation between your first concern (can a doctor stay employed while being infected with an STD) and your eventually stated desire (wanting to sleep with him)... Could you please clarify what you're trying to get at? Are you trying to see if his employment status verifies his claim of not having an STD, which would therefore make you feel more comfortable sleeping with him? Or is your boyfriend actively being denied access to a particular country or role because he doesn't have recent STD test results to prove he is not currently positive for any STDs?

Also, please know that calling someone without an STD "clean" implies that someone who does have one = dirty, which makes it harder for anyone with an STD to be treated kindly or fairly.
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:41 PM on February 24, 2016 [85 favorites]

Whenever your heart and your head are in disagreement, always follow your head. I'm sure he's fine and you'll be fine, but it's more fun when you're sure.
posted by Floydd at 6:43 PM on February 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

Having an STD has 0% to do with a doctor's legal ability to practice medicine.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:48 PM on February 24, 2016 [31 favorites]

I know doctors personally who have practiced medicine with an STD.
posted by pullayup at 7:12 PM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

If he is telling you "you know I'm clean because I still have a job!" RUN AWAY VERY FAST RIGHT NOW, COVERED IN CONDOMS.

This isn't a thing. Doctors are not required to not be sick*. And they're not required not to be lying shitfaces, either.

*Nor, under normal circumstances, are STIs some sort of indictment of character. People get them. They treat them or manage them. That's fine. But if they lie about how they must be clean because they are employed or well-respected in the community or smell good or have great friends, that's bullshit and they are shitfaces.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:19 PM on February 24, 2016 [101 favorites]

Healthcare professionals are expected to know at a minimum their HIV status, which involves being tested regularly. His excuses are not reasonable; there's something much more going on than he is telling you, wherever it has to do with STDs or something else.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:26 PM on February 24, 2016

Healthcare professionals are expected to know at a minimum their HIV status, which involves being tested regularly.

What in the what? Thank God this is untrue.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:35 PM on February 24, 2016 [13 favorites]

Healthcare professionals are expected to know at a minimum their HIV status, which involves being tested regularly.

This message would be news to me. As a nurse, I've had to prove I don't have TB. That's about it. We use universal precautions for the patient's sake as well as our own; the entire idea is to prevent blood being inadvertently exchanged at all.

A doctor could absolutely be employed with an STI. Being the one has literally nothing to do with being diagnosed (or undiagnosed) with the other.
posted by RainyJay at 7:59 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: He has not made any claims. Most places will not send results (privacy concerns, my experience).

At the end of the day, I trust him. I was stonewalling him by wanting a test.
posted by squirbel at 8:01 PM on February 24, 2016

Wait, so your boyfriend claims that at some point, he took an STI test, then he flew to Jordan the next day, then presumably he eventually came home. And by then, what, the test results had, what, evaporated? I understand that it wouldn't tell you whether he had cheated on you in Jordan and contracted something new, but the fact that he can't find a way to get test results that would tell you, "as of X date I was negative for the following conditions" is extremely suspicious.

If you trust your boyfriend not to cheat on you, and what you want to know is whether he may have contracted something from a past partner, he should take the test whenever he's in town, and then get the results the next time he's available to get them.

If you do not trust your boyfriend not to cheat on you and are hoping for some kind of up-to-the-minute cheat-o-meter, you should not sleep with him unless and until you come to trust him, regardless of what his test results say.

And if your boyfriend is telling you that he doesn't need to take an STD test because doctors don't have STDs, he is lying to you, full stop (moreover, if he's telling you that, you should ask him for the results of the STD tests he takes for work to keep his job, which will cause him to make more excuses, and then you'll know he's lying).

Your heart can want whatever it wants. Trust your head. Both of you should be tested before you have unprotected sex (or, if it makes you feel more comfortable, any sex at all). And if your boyfriend keeps making excuses as to why he can't get tested or doesn't have to get tested or has already been secretly tested at work at the special doctor employment agency but can't produce the results, trust your head when it tells you that he is hiding something from you. I don't know whether what he's hiding is an STD, but he is hiding something.
posted by decathecting at 8:03 PM on February 24, 2016 [12 favorites]

Just saw your update. Not wanting to have sex with someone is never "stonewalling." You are entitled to not have sex with anyone for any reason at any time.

If you want your boyfriend to have a full battery of tests for STDs before you sleep with him, you are entitled to ask for that. He is entitled to consent or refuse such testing. You are then entitled to decide, if he refuses to be tested, not to sleep with him at all.

He can take the test now, then get the results when he gets back from his next trip. It's really easy. And if he's making it more difficult than that, then he is the one stonewalling you.
posted by decathecting at 8:06 PM on February 24, 2016 [61 favorites]

And by the way, wanting someone to have tests for communicable diseases before having sex isn't about trust. There are lots of people I trust who have contracted communicable diseases of various kinds. The reason I trust them is because I know that they would never knowingly expose me to such a disease, and that they would take responsible precautions to make sure that they know their status before putting me in a position where I could contract something from them. Lots of trustworthy people have STDs. Your boyfriend can be trustworthy and still have an STD. That's why we have testing: because you can't tell from someone's appearance or personality or character whether or not they have an illness.
posted by decathecting at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2016 [28 favorites]

Girl, he needs to get tested. Sorry it's difficult for him but if he's had sex with other people he might not even know himself.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah this isn't a trust issue - if he doesn't have a recent panel of STD results he can show you, he doesn't know whether or not he has any STDs. It is completely good and fair and reasonable for you to both get tested before you get sexually active with each other.

And yeah, he should be able to get a test and then go wherever and then come back and get results. The last time I got a full screen from my regular doctor, the results were posted online to my account (as are the results of all tests I get at that office), though I didn't get an HIV test at that time so I'm not sure if that one would have been.
posted by brainmouse at 8:12 PM on February 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Aid workers often have a lot of sex (boredom, stress, intense contact with unattached colleagues in remote places, and/or access to cheap local sex workers) so consider how you will want to negotiate sexual health on an ongoing basis if you guys do start a sexual relationship.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:20 PM on February 24, 2016 [8 favorites]

Healthcare professionals are expected to know at a minimum their HIV status, which involves being tested regularly.

What in the what? Thank God this is untrue

I guess that should have been prefaced with "in my state?" I am in nursing school in Alaska and am required to be tested for HIV annually. We don't have to disclose the results, just provide proof of testing. This strikes me as incredibly sensible, if only to know your relatively recent baseline in the event of a needle stick incident and to be aware if you're immunocompromised and take extra precautions when dealing with communicable diseases.
posted by charmcityblues at 8:54 PM on February 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

I have totally had multiple doctors email me all sorts of STD and blood test results. I understand privacy policy may vary by office and state/country - but this is definitely a thing a least some doctors are willing to do.
posted by jrobin276 at 9:38 PM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

He can't know with any confidence whether he has an STD or not unless he's been tested recently. His opinion on whether he has an STD is neither here nor there, since he could be asymptomatic. It's not really a matter of trust.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:47 PM on February 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

I guess that should have been prefaced with "in my state?"

I am not trying to derail but would like to clarify that while this is true for charmcityblues' nursing program, as far as I can tell it is not a requirement for statewide healthcare professionals even in Alaska. I Googled pretty extensively, quickly skimmed the physician licensing statues and live with a (currently off-the-grid, or I'd just ask him) Alaskan doctor who visits doctors for his own health infrequently enough that I think a regular testing mandate would have been at least mentioned offhand in the years we have been together.

That said, as many many others have stated above there are many happily employed doctors with STDs. There is no worldwide health testing requirement for the profession. If the doctor in your life is telling you otherwise, he is not being honest with you.

It is okay to not want to sleep with someone who has not been tested for STDs. It is okay to insist on proof of the testing if that is what you need to feel comfortable before you have sex with someone. It is okay to end a relationship with someone because they won't do the completely reasonable, sensible thing you have asked them to do before you have sex with them.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:11 PM on February 24, 2016 [9 favorites]

I want to know if in general if a doctor can be employed with stds.

Think it through - could a hospital sack a doctor for catching chlamydia? No, clearly not. Nor for other diseases. They mostly wouldn't even know if the doctor had one.
posted by biffa at 12:03 AM on February 25, 2016

This may or may not contribute to a derail but in Australia, surgeons who test HIV positive are not allowed to perform surgeries where they put their hands in to body cavities, as far as I remember. They may not be able to perform surgeries at all but I remember the body cavity part. I'm at this very moment a student in the School of Medicine at what my university likes to claim as Australia's best university. I think they're full of shit about that part, but prepared to accept that a positive HIV test precludes doctors from performing all/ some surgeries. This was stated in a risk lecture in October last year. It is a self reporting situation though, as far as I know. (Just a data point.)
posted by taff at 12:12 AM on February 25, 2016

Yes, a doctor can have an STD. Please protect yourself as you would with any other partner with an unknown STD status.

We tried it and he had to fly out to Jordan the day after his test

Wait, let me get this straight. So he got sent to Jordan unexpectedly, on a day's notice? And he... never came back to the country where the test was taken (and where I assume you are), or why else couldn't he get the results when he came back? Or are you both globetrotting and meeting in a new place every time?

I realize this is not what your question was about, and I'm sorry if I'm meddling and misinterpreting, but I'm sure I'm not the only one here who had a "record scratching to a halt" moment there. The medical personnel I know who have worked for international organizations such as MSF haven't been thrown around the globe at a moment's notice. Are you sure there's nothing fishy going on here?
posted by sively at 1:21 AM on February 25, 2016 [16 favorites]

It is possible to ask to be considered for short-notice placements - one of my friends did a series of one-month placements during her time with MSF, and she got maybe a week or two's notice before each one (she was essentially on call). She picked that arrangement because she didn't want to commit to a one-to-two year placement as she had a husband at home. She would fly in, do a month of non-stop surgery, then fly home for a month or two.

She was also able to pick general geographic areas (interestingly she was in Palestine and Jordan so I wonder if your boyfriend is on the same rotation). So while "pack your bag, you're leaving today" does sound a bit over-dramatic, it's perfectly believable that he doesn't get a huge amount of notice if he's already on standby. It would be more a case of "can you go to Jordan for a month in early March, we'll give you the precise departure date nearer the time but keep these weeks free".

The "hands in a body cavity" thing referred to above are "exposure-prone procedures" (EPPs). Guidance may vary from country to country, but in the UK if you do EPPs (or work in certain other high-risk blood-soaked areas as I do) you will be checked for blood-borne viruses (BBVs) every time you start a new job. I can't speak for the US, but there is no mandatory re-testing in the UK - if you're in the same job for twenty years you are never re-tested. And if you don't do EPPs, you aren't tested at all because you aren't considered a risk to patients (you can do a clinic or ward round perfectly safely as an HIV or hepatitis C positive doctor).

You (and the patient) would be tested (twice, at 0 and 3 months) if you had a needlestick injury (to stop people fraudulently claiming compensation from the NHS if the needlestick wasn't the cause of their HIV), but I've never had one so that's not foolproof either.

And fascinating as all of this is, it won't exclude the more common STDs such as chlamydia, which will be asymptomatic in men anyway.
posted by tinkletown at 2:49 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's good practise to get tested on a regular basis, especially if you're starting a new relationship. I'd say definitely follow your head on this one and get him to get tested. I'd also recommend listening to your gut on this one too. If something feels off, maybe he's hiding something or maybe it's worth considering whether you can trust him with your sexual health.

I'd recommend using condoms regardless of what tests say.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 3:12 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

he had to fly out to Jordan the day after his test.

The test results will be there when he returns from Jordan.
posted by headnsouth at 3:22 AM on February 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

There are plenty of physicians in practice who are openly HIV+. STIs have nothing to do with being a practicing physician.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:03 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, from the information you've provided I don't think this guy is a doctor, without borders or otherwise. He's going home to his wife and kids or something.
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:26 AM on February 25, 2016 [19 favorites]

Nthing that it's not stonewalling to ask him to get tested. People who are infected usually don't know it. This isn't about faith or trust. This is about your health and science. Anyone who is sexually active but doesn't want to be tested and share results is just crazy pants. Not saying your friend is one of those people. Just suggesting to beware of those who are.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:23 AM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I mean, even if it were the case that a doctor with an STD couldn't be employed, how would they know that he didn't have one without testing him? This isn't internally consistent.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:47 PM on February 25, 2016 [6 favorites]

Depends on the rules for his organisation but I've never heard of somewhere that requires STD testing, for obvious reasons (privacy; doesn't impact on patient care).

However, testing for blood borne viruses (which means HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C) is common in medicine. Some people are tested annually, whereas some just have the test once and not again if they haven't done anything high risk.

If you have a blood borne virus (BBV) that would affect your ability to practice some aspects of medicine. You might not be able to do some procedures, or you might have to take extra precautions. It's unlikely you'd be barred from practice altogether.
posted by Stephanie_Says at 2:19 PM on February 25, 2016

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