I choose to undergo a yearly physical exam in which I receive any relevant preventative screenings, as well as STI testing (the standard ones are chlamydia and gonorrhea). Typically I have had at least one sexual partner within the past year (but not always, celibacy is transformative).
Since last year's exam, I have started dating and having sex with a man I believe to be a HVM. We are monogamous and he got tested at my request before we became intimate. I trust him and love him. However, I know men as a class are unprincipled, selfish, and callous, and I act accordingly.
With that in mind, several of the STI screening questions baffle and disturb me. One in particular is, "Could your monogamous partner possibly be having sex with someone else without your knowledge?" OF COURSE they could be! That is a key reason to get tested regularly. Men lie all the time about their health and their fidelity. It feels like I'm being gaslit when a healthcare provider asks me this question. Every human should answer "yes."
Sometimes clinicians imply that I don't need STI testing if I am in a monogamous relationship and my partner and I have both tested negative in the past. This is harmful and untrue. Taking regular, responsible care of my sexual health is an essential pillar of being a HVW and protecting myself against men, even the man I have chosen to be my sexual partner. With each yearly test, I am continuing to vet to confirm whether the current man in my life still deserves my trust and commitment. This can never be assumed, taken for granted, or given freely without ongoing verification. Of course being STI-free does not mean that I was not cheated on, but it offers a measure of self-defense.
Never stop vetting, and never stop protecting your physical health.