Chris Olsen shares his journey of contracting chlamydia three times with his 9.6 million TikTok followers

Chris Olsen with white headphones around his neck is standing outside talking to the camera

TikToker Chris Olsen recently shared that he has contracted chlamydia three times. It’s a stunning admission when you consider how rarely other social media influencers ever talk about getting sexually transmitted infections (STDs).

“So I’ve had chlamydia three times,” Olsen said in a recently posted video, quickly adding, “End the stigma.”

“The nurse [at the STI clinic], which I’ve seen before… was like ‘Oh, I haven’t seen you in a while,'” he continued. “And I thought, ‘Yeah, it’s been a little dry in there.'”

Olsen said the nurse tried to set him up with her gay son. When Olsen later found him on Instagram, he realized that her son was the ex-boyfriend of a dude who ghosted Olsen last year. “The world is too small,” he wrote in the caption of his video.

The influencer also noted that the nurse called him later to say his chlamydia test was negative. “Little wins!” he said at the end of his video.

@chris

THIS WORLD IS TOO SMALL

? original sound – Chris Olsen

Olsen’s admission is especially noteworthy given that the 25-year-old influencer has more than 9.6 million TikTok followers. His video has been viewed an estimated 8.2 million times as of Tuesday, January 24, 2023 – nearly enough for every New York City resident to have watched it once!

It is not surprising that a sexually active queer man will contract an STI. Anywhere from 20% to 50% of Americans will contract an STI in their lifetime, according to the CDC and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But despite being so common, it’s extremely rare for a queer man to talk about STIs on social media, especially when they have as many followers as Olsen. That’s because people still feel a lot of slut-shame and stigma around STIs, as if they were moral punishments for “bad behavior” rather than just common illnesses.

A friend compared STDs to the common cold and flu — illnesses you can catch in a playground — except that the adult playground is the bedroom and STDs affect your genitals rather than your respiratory organs.

“We don’t shame people for catching a cold,” said the friend, “so why should we do that for catching an STI?”

Jenelle Marie Pierce, chair of the STI project board, said STI conversations tend to be “wrapped in a bunch of trepidation, fear, ethics and morals.” Therefore, she praised Olsen’s video and use of conversational humour.

“What I love most about this video is the casual conversation that takes place between the influencer and the audience, which isn’t much different from a typical reveal conversation,” Pierce said. “In some ways it’s serious, yes, but it can also be fun and affirming. It’s a dialogue where information is shared and decisions are made and hopefully fun is had. What’s not to like about that, right?”

Pierce said more people should be talking about chlamydia, given that more than 1.8 million Americans contracted chlamydia in 2019. talk publicly about their own STI.

As Olsen said, it’s time to “end the stigma.” Friendly conversations like his can help normalize STIs, change people’s perceptions of them, and keep friends and communities healthy and informed, stigma be damned.

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