In a sexual context, the term clean describes being free of sexually transmitted diseases. It is often used to refer to people who are not HIV positive, but can also be used to describe the absence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The term clean is often used by people when questioning the status of individuals that they may become sexually active with. Asking the question “Are you clean?” in this context is not an enquiry about someone’s hygiene, but rather about their sexual health status or potential to carry a disease.
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The question “Are you clean?” is commonly posed to potential partners, whether in person, or on online dating profiles and hook-up websites.
While it’s common to ask a sexual partner whether they are clean, their affirmation does not guarantee protection from STDs. Individuals may be mistaken about their sexual health status if they have only recently been infected and are unaware, or they might lie about it because they are ashamed or they wish to become intimate with you.
An STD test can give some indication whether someone is clean, but it is incorrect to assume that someone is completely clean based on the test results. There are no tests for some common STDs, while others can only be detected only during an outbreak. Doctors may also be unwilling to test for some STDs, such as syphilis, unless a patient has been exposed.
While the term clean is a common part of mainstream parlance, some people living with STDs including the HIV virus, find the term offensive as it implies that they, by contrast, are “dirty.”