While attitudes related to sex have changed dramatically over the course of recent decades, the risks that come with regular sexual activity have not. That doesn’t mean that all people should see abstinence as the only way forward; it means that normalizing and removing the stigma from STD testing needs to be a top health priority.
That stigma is real. And it affects people regardless of whether it’s their first time engaging in intercourse or not. Despite possibly having symptoms or even just general worries about their health, some people choose to ignore any possible issues simply because they’re worried about the stigma of being seen as impure. They’re worried about friends judging them harshly or scaring away people they care about.
We won’t get into the details of what can happen if serious infections occur here. Our STD symptoms guide goes more into depth on what the symptoms are and how to act appropriately. Even if you don’t feel any symptoms and you’re not 100% sure of the testing status of any of your partners, it can’t hurt to gather as much information as possible about STD testing.
The fact is, half of sexually active people will have some kind of STD by the time they are 25 years old. It’s not our job to judge or jump to conclusions. It’s our job to provide the most accurate STD testing in the country in a timely fashion.
Regardless of age, we want to support people in making responsible decisions about their sexual health. It can be awkward to ask difficult questions to people you care about and risk harming a relationship. However, the more people who are willing to have open conversations about sexual health and STD testing, the more the stigma will start to disappear and the incidence rate will continue to drop.
This can be even more difficult when you don’t know where to start. Up until recently, more than a third of school districts only taught abstinence-only sex education. While some believe it may work in theory, statistics show that, during a single act of vaginal intercourse with an infected partner, a teenager has a 30% risk of contracting genital herpes, a 50% chance of contracting gonorrhea, and a 1 in 100 chance of acquiring HIV. If that person has never learned anything about safe sex, a troubling cycle continues where unsafe sex continues and more people can get infected.
The need for an STD Awareness Month comes from the necessity to have open conversations about sexual health and put a spotlight on these issues. STD testing can seem like a scary ordeal to someone who has never gone through the process before, or even worse, has gone through a bad process. The possibility to being negatively judged only adds to that stigma.
That’s why we train everyone we work with to be open and honest with our clients while relaying the best information available without picking sides. We want you to be healthy and have all the tools to achieve that goal.
We hope you have a safe STD Awareness month. If you’d like to learn about how to get involved and join the Get Yourself Tested campaign, check out the It’s Your (Sex) Life campaign by MTV. Also, encourage your friends to be open to discussion about topics so they can be comfortable and make smart health decisions.