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Well today a prize arrived for me all the way from Melbourne! I was VERY excited not only because I knew it was going to be yummy, but because it’s super cool to know someone went trudging around a shop to make me smiley happy 🙂 I know how much boys HATE shopping (even for sex toys! How on Earth could that be boring?!), so when someone goes shopping for me for a prize I never underestimate what a drag that was for them. It was especially wonderful to receive because it arrived on a shitty day.
On Friday I went for an STI check at Family Planning Queensland (FPQ). I usually go to a private Doctor for my STI screening because my experience of STI Centers in Sydney goes beyond sucking. These days due to “funding cuts”, if you want to get blood tests and all your swabs done, you either need to be dripping with green nuclear toxic looking ooze, or you need to lie thru your teeth and escalate your risk factors… eg. “naaaaah I don’t use condoms because I get paid $20 more if I don’t”. If you manage to get a full screen off them, the last 2 times I went, they gave me 2 pots to pee in, 6 swab sticks and told me to go into the toilet and swab myself – YERRR RIGHT! I don’t even like Paddle Pops, how the hell am I suppose to know how to stick a paddle pop stick with cotton buds on the end of it in my bagina and how far do I have to stick it in and where the hell do I put all of this stuff down in the toilets while I’m doing each swab… on the toilet seat where other people’s shit and STI sticks have been sitting?! So I choose to go private and go to a Doctor that specializes in STIs/HIV.
Sooo on Friday because my private doctor is in Sydney and I’m in QLD, I troddled into FPQ and eventually got into the office with a Doctor. FPQ is apparently a teaching establishment so I had 3 Doctors and 1 Supervisor in there with me. Sooo we start with the questions….
“how many sexual relationships have you had?”, at which stage a hooker thinks:
- Not bloody enough because I can’t afford to even buy baked beans at the moment
- What hooker would ever count that?!
- Sexual relationships? I’m a hooker, I don’t do relationships! What the hell do they mean by sexual relationships?!
- Surely they would have come up with better questions in the last 10 years? How come they keep asking me the same stupid questions?
- Asking the same stupid questions hasn’t managed to reduce STI rates and in fact they are increasing at a ridiculous rate, so surely it’s time to device better questions because these ones just aren’t working!
- Why do they even bother asking me these stupid questions? It’s not as if they base their STI screening on it because they’re either funded well enough to do full STI screens or they’re not. It’s not as if they do any health promotion or education based on my answers, so what’s the bloody point?!
and they go on and on.
Then we move on to the screening. It was decided I was allowed to have a full screen. I handed one of the Doctors a bottle of lube and instructed them all they were to use that lube because other lubes give me thrush. They all looked at me like numbnuts so I launched into my bit of health promotion on what lube is made out of and how it can cause sex workers in particular issues if you use the cheap nasty lube health services insist on buying because it’s cheap and therefore crappy.
Then up with the legs, on with the gloves. None of the Doctors knew how to put gloves on properly to make it look scary so I taught them how to add a snap to the glove to add a bit of theatrics to make the experience more entertaining.
Then we played tag with my bagina. One stuck the duck bills in and then they all walked around the room peering into the chasm (not that I have a loose bagina of course!), then they each took a turn in sticking a paddle pop stick inside me to scratch around. At this stage I told them it was ridiculous you have to have all of this done and you don’t get a prize, so I said I wanted a lollie for a reward. Then there was this mass exodus from the room as they all ran around looking for lollies for me! 5 minutes later they all came back in smiling like lunatics as one held up a specimen jar with jelly beans in it……
Meanwhile I’m STILL flat on my back with duck bills stretching my insides to the outsides. So one of them took the duck bills out and then two of them took turns sticking their fingers in me while they pushed on my stomach. All done… phew, at least I scored some jelly beans!
As I was getting dressed the Supervisor Doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to come back for more STI screening. I was all horrified thinking “but my bagina is spotless and I didn’t have any naughty smelly loud slips, so why won’t they let me come back?!”. I asked why….
Lucy: but whyyyyyyyyy, I like it here!
FPQ: you’re a sex worker and sex workers have to go to Sexual Health Clinics (they call them clinics in QLD not centres)
Lucy: but whyyyyyyyyyyy
FPQ: because you’re a sex worker and they are considered a more appropriate service for sex workers
Lucy: but whyyyyyyyyyyy?
FPQ; because that’s where sex workers have to go, we only do ongoing STI screening for non sex workers
Lucy: so if I was a normal person, a non sex worker, you’d let me come back every 3 – 6 months for full screening, but because I’m a sex worker I’m not allowed to access your service anymore?
FPQ; that’s correct, we only offer an initial consultation to sex workers
Lucy: but hasn’t it been established that people have better health outcomes and access services more regularly when they are given choice in who provides their health care?
FPQ: the point is you need to go to a Sexual Health Clinic
Lucy: but doesn’t the National Strategies for Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV all state that sex workers are a priority population and therefore services should go out of their way to make us a cup of tea when we come in to make us feel comfortable and welcome because we’re considered more “at risk” and should be encouraged to come back?
FPQ: You’re welcome to come in if you’re having an abnormal period and need to speak to a Doctor about why that may be happening and to have an ultrasound.
Lucy: so that means I’m allowed to come in as long as I’m coming in as a normal person with normal people needs, but I’m not allowed in if I’m coming in as a hooker with hooker needs?
FPQ; you are a normal person, so please don’t refer to yourself as a non human.
Lucy: if FPQ considered me a person like everyone else, then they wouldn’t be discriminating and withholding services from sex workers. I was reading the FPQ service brochure and it said you have a discrimination policy that says you don’t discriminate based on sexuality, sex, religious beliefs and all that stuff. Just out of curiosity, where do sex workers fit into your discrimination policy?
FPQ: I’ll give you the list of Sexual Health Clinics
Lucy: naaaah don’t worry about it. I know where they all are… I’m a hooker, so I’ve learnt to look after my own health care needs. Thanks but!
Then we move on to the blood testing. All of the Doctor’s were squirming and looking like they wanted to be anywhere but in a room with me and the Supervisor Doctor, so no-one volunteered to take blood. One of them was appointed and came at me with two tourniquets. I looked at the Doctor as they came at me and the conversation went like this:
Lucy: you have 2 tourniquets there all mixed up. Does FPQ ever use disposable tourniquets?
Lucy: a tourniquet that is one use and then you throw it away
Doctor: no they don’t exist
Lucy: aaaw you haven’t worked with drug users yet have you? They give them away to them for free.
Doctor: why would you want a disposable tourniquet?
Lucy: because I don’t know where those tourniquets have been and you’re suppose to use clean equipment every time you’re going to stick anything into anyone to minimize the risks of HepC and HIV transmission.
Doctor: you can’t get HIV or HepC from a blood test using a tourniquet
Lucy: yes you can. What happens if the last person had Hep C and you dragged it down past their injection site and then you drag it over my injection site? The risk of transmission is going to be there.
Doctor: no you can see blood and there’s no blood on anyone’s arm and there’s no blood on this tourniquet and you told us you don’t have Hep C or HIV
Lucy thinks: stupid dumb arse
Lucy says: ooook you’re the Doctor so you know best
Doctor then drops the tourniquet on the floor
Lucy says: so now it’s been on the floor, can I have a new tourniquet because I don’t want an abscess and other nasty infections that can even kill you if they move to your heart
Doctor: it’s still clean
Lucy: hmmm you must be right because I can’t see any blood on the floor and of course you need to be able to see a large pool of blood for it to be present so I trust you, go ahead
Supervisor Doctor: ok enough talking, let’s do this blood test. Doctor are you ok?
Lucy thinks: fuck the Doctor! He’s about to stick a dirty tourniquet on my arm, doesn’t understand I’m getting blood tests because I need to find out if I have Hep C or HIV and just because I say I don’t have it doesn’t mean I don’t AND he doesn’t know how Hepatitis and HIV can be transmitted with needles!
So he sticks the tourniquet on and does the blood test. He then pulls out the needle and sticks a bit of cotton wool over the site getting blood on his gloves. He then releases the tourniquet and places it over the top of the cotton bud and tightens it up so the tourniquet is holding the cotton bud down.
At this stage I’m sitting there thoroughly constipated thinking I’m going to show them NEVER to let sex workers in….
Lucy says: ok so now you have put your bloody fingers on the tourniquet, now you have put the tourniquet directly over a bleeding injection site and now you have dropped the tourniquet on the ground, are you going to dispose of it so the next normal person doesn’t have to risk being infected by a sex worker, after all apparently I am the vector of disease.
Doctor says: ummmmm
Lucy says: well?
Supervisor says: look there is no blood on the tourniquet
Lucy says: go and read your policy on infection control and your stats on why sex workers are considered an “at risk priority population” and think about why you won’t let sex workers in. Think about what your next patient would think if they knew a tourniquet had been used on a dirty hooker. Think about if you would like to have that tourniquet on your arm now.
Supervisor Doctor says: ok we’ll get the tourniquet cleaned?
Lucy: what do you mean you’ll get it cleaned?!
Supervisor Doctor: ok your results will be mailed to you in 3 weeks, have a nice day and if you want an ultra sound come back
Lucy: oh for sure! Thanks for my jelly beans… oh and by the way, do you have any STI information I can take away with me?
Supervisor Doctor: no we don’t actually. That’s why we send sex workers to specialty services.
Lucy: ooooh so non sex workers don’t get STIs so don’t need information to take with them?
Supervisor Doctor: will there be anything else?
Lucy: naaaah I was just imaging what it would be like for a sexual health service to actually give me some health information one day
Supervisor Doctor: enjoy your jelly beans
Lucy: of course, they’re yummy!
Farcking STI services. The experts in nothing.
Services bar you as a sex worker fobbing you off to designated “sex worker services”. You go to designated sex worker services and they say if you’re not a street based worker, CALD worker (Asian), opportunistic worker, male or transgender, then you’re not one of their priority populations so you can get stuffed and you have to fight to get service delivery from them. Sex worker organizations are a classic example of this.
Pfft. discrimination from everyone, everywhere even from people who should absolutely know better. People who deliver services to sex workers should be taken out and shot. Service providers suck and the services they deliver sucks and it’s especially disappointing when it comes to services who should know better. It is especially annoying when service providers think they know everything and aren’t prepared to listen to their clients. I have learnt all of my best information from people living the life … life really is the best teacher after all.
Aaaargh I hate being a “stupid non person client”! You have to argue with these people as a client and you have no rights. If you work for them, you have to continue to argue with them for treating their clients so badly and for being so stupid.
I’m moving back to space in my space pod – makes more sense
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