Sexually Transmitted Infections Part 1: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HPV

Caution, cyprianophobes! Katie Scoular doles out the facts on three of the most common STIs: the slang, the history, and the science. Plus news, pop culture and “The Lesser of Two Evils.”

Music: “Once In Love With Amy” by Ray Bolger



15 Responses

  1. AC/DC has a song called ‘The Jack’ which apparently is Australian slang for gonorrhea. It’s on the High Voltage album. I recall the burn outs in my art class listening to it and one of them explaining to the others what ‘The Jack’ actually meant and the others thinking that was awesome and high-fiving.

  2. There is a rather disturbing scene in Boardwalk Empire in which Lucky Luciani gets a “treatment” for gonarea, involving a a rather long probe and his penis.

  3. There is a great PSA from the seventies on the subject:

    I like how it doesn’t actually tell you anything. When I first saw it I didn’t know the term VD and was completely mystified…
    Still, the song might even be a fit for one of your future STI episodes.

  4. Would it be stretching to mention Hudson Hawk in the pop-culture section? The coded-named CIA agents went by the names of different diseases for a year, and Lorraine Toussaint’s “Almond Joy” got saddled with chlamydia. (Any excuse to mention Bruce Willis’ best movie.)

    1. If we are going with brief movie references, Easy A mentions Chlamydia. There is a teacher/student affair that comes to light when the student is hospitalised and there his parents learn he has Chlamydia.

  5. Between your podcast, and Dan Savage’s from last week, I was extremely motivated to talk to my doctor about these things. Particularly the ones that are asymptomatic.

    You can get tested for most STIs, including chlamydia, but not HPV. Women can get tested for the cancer-causing HPV virus strains, but there are no tests for non-cancer causing strains, and no HPV tests at all for men. Although Gardasil is recommended for people who have had 2 or fewer partners, you can request the vaccine at any time.

    For women, if you have a pap test, and it’s clear, taking the vaccine will most likely protect you from the cancer-causing strains. For full effectiveness, you need 3 vaccinations over a period of 6 months. However, it is not cheap, and most medical plans do not cover it.

  6. Well, that is understandable since cervical cancer is so much cheaper to treat for the insurance company. Eye roll.

  7. Pretty good episode until she starts spewing her pablum about “anti-vaxxers” and “the religious right” – please try not to have brainwashed guests on the show, thanks.

    1. Your response to “pablum” isn’t a rational argument but an ad-hominem attack? Not at all surprising.

      The anti-vax movement has no evidence to support their position and their stance is causing harm. Check out for a running tally on the number of preventable deaths that have happened since 2007. Vaccination saves lives and when used society-wide can wipe out communicable diseases.

      Here’s just some info on what’s been wiped out. The amount of human suffering reduced because of vaccines is staggering and to embrace irrational and unsubstantiated claims that they are dangerous is to be pro-suffering.

      Polio: Even in the 1950s around 20,000 cases per year were reported. By 1970, 20 years after the vaccine was introduce and spread, that number was reduced to around 10. In 1998 a concerted worldwide effort to eradicate polio was undertaken. Yearly reported infections went from 350,000 down to around 1,000. Every time you support anti-vaxxers, you are spitting in the face of a third of a million people per year and arguing they should not have received the vaccine that saved them from paralysis, pain, and death.

      Smallpox: In the early 1950s there are 50 million cases reported each year. By 1980 we had completely wiped out smallpox through vaccination. FIFTY MILLION PER YEAR down to ZERO.

      So yes, we’re going to make fun of anti-vaxxers. We’re going to demand that their extraordinary claims have extraordinary evidence. Unfortunately they have none, but they continue to pop up in online discussions, just like this.

      As for the religious right, their interference with harm-reduction policy and adherence to two-thousand year old standards of morality is holding humanity back. Their insistence on unworkable abstinence-only sex education is causing measurable harm. Abstinence-only education has done nothing to reduce HIV infections, nor teen pregnancy. Every single study has shown this, but the religious right doesn’t care much about evidence or numbers — they’ve decided how the world works and have plugged their ears and shouted LALALALALALALALA to keep out that pesky “reality” everyone else is talking about.

      On Caustic Soda, we deal with reality. If we ever talk about fantasy worlds where telling kids not to have sex works or where there’s a global conspiracy to infect people through the use of the vaccine it comes under our “Pop Culture” segment. Those kinds of crazy fantasy/conspiracy stories are a lot of fun, but they’re not real.

  8. Subaru’s high performance line is dubbed STi, which stands for Subaru Technica International. The alternate meaning is a the source of a lot of jokes among Subaru enthusiasts.

    Great episode guys, as usual! One of the true gems of podcasting.

  9. Probably the cringes episode so far. Not that i’m usually very touchy, and i didn’t have a problem listening. That being said… Eye chlamydia does not sound very cool.

  10. Don’t make fun of the giant microbes, they’re cute and fun! I used to have the typhoid one, I would throw it at people when they were at my house. I lost it during a move, though.