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A friend of mine goes to Thailand every year and always hires the same sex worker. He says Thailand has mandatory STI testing for sex workers. Is that true?

I said he should get tested in Manitoba, but he says he doesn’t have to because of that Thai policy.
(I’m not sure if he uses condoms or not.)


Reports indicate that some testing policies have helped lower the community STBBI rates in Thailand. That said, Thailand still has many cases of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections passing from person to person.
I can address what Manitobans who have sex on vacation should consider (no matter who they have sex with.)

The only way for someone to know their own STBBI status (whether they have an infection or not) is through testing. Many STBBIs are invisible in that they may not have noticeable symptoms. The Manitoba HIV Program recommends sexually active people get tested at least every 5 years. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care for or trust our sexual partners, it’s just that this is an personal health information that someone else cannot accurately monitor for us.

In Canada STBBI testing is voluntary, and as much as you might feel like forcing your friend to get tested, it’s always their choice. Perhaps you could make an offer to accompany him or get tested at the same time. If fear of feeling awkward or embarrassed is the barrier to getting tested, sometimes having a friend there can help.

If the barrier to getting tested is relying on assumptions about the other person’s status, would he consider talking with this partner about if, when, and how often they get tested for STBBIs? I’d suggest testing as a confirmation that there has been no change in his status when he returns.

The testing clinician may be able to give your friend a little more information about the benefits of routine testing, suggest a an appropriate timeline, and go over safer sex strategies to reduce the risk. You mentioned condoms; they’re a great tool that travel well and he may even be able to stock up on free condoms while getting tested.

Thanks for asking this question, feel free to pass this info along to your friend. I’ll end by asking you to consider how often routine STBBI testing might be right for yourself (or maybe you’re already on top of it!)