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Sex + Relationships

Steps to take when you or your friend have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease

The stigma surrounding Sexually Transmitted Diseases in today’s culture is one far from accurate and one with incredibly damaging effects. For many people the initial response when they hear of a stranger being diagnosed with an std is to be a mix of grossed out, skeptical of that person’s hygiene and to form an opinion of that person’s level of self respect. Of course none of these reactions are fair ones. Receiving a sexually transmitted disease is not something someone signs up for, it something that happens; and it happening has absolutely no bearing on the type of person someone is. Damaging stigmas surrounding stds are one of, if not the biggest reason for the high numbers of STDs cases that go undiagnosed every year. It’s 2019, it’s time to throw these false stereotypes aside and realize that there is nothing to be ashamed of; we need to begin to come to terms with the fact that these diseases happen and that when they do happen they can be dealt with. Whether it’s you yourself who is handling the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease or your best friend, here are a few steps to making the process as painless and time efficient as possible.

Step 1: Get diagnosed

As soon as you begin to have symptoms that could potentially fall under the category of STD symptoms, get tested. Do not rely on professor google, google did not go to medical school; more often than not this supposed savior will leave you thinking you are knocking on death’s door when in fact you are far from it. Go to your local clinic or doctors office, explain the symptoms you are experiencing and have them run some tests. Remember that any health clinic is required to keep this information confidential and that free tests and services will be provided at designated clinics in your area.

Step 2: Inform your partner of the results 

I want to begin this step by clarifying that you yourself do not need to tell them. If you get tested and the results are positive, there are many options in the ways in which you can communicate these results to your sexual partner. One of the most popular options is an online texting service. This service will allow you to send anonymous messages to your partner informing them that they should get tested. Of course if one is comfortable enough to share these results face to face then that too is always an option; but knowing that there are anonymous options is essential to making sure that the information gets passed around. By informing your partner of the results you are making sure that this disease does not continue to spread and affect other members of the community.

Step 3: Allow yourself to feel supported  

While some would rather handle personal situations such as these alone, it is important to know that you have the resources to lean on if you so choose. The spectrum of help available is as large as it is eager to help you throughout the process. There are both professional and intimate avenues of help that are at one’s fingertips. Counselors, doctors, family and friends are all available to help one sort through feelings, symptoms and all else that can come with a diagnosis such as this one. Know that you are not only not alone but that you are in fact surrounded by people who would love nothing more then to support you in any way possible. 

We can not continue to allow people to believe that they are any less than anyone else because they have been diagnosed with a STD. It is nothing to be ashamed of, rather it is something to deal with and move on from. It is only once we begin to understand how damaging these stereotypes related to STDs can be that we can begin to try to change them. In this new academic year let’s all make a pledge to help end the false, unnecessary and damaging stigma that surrounds stds in today’s culture. 

 

Talia grew up in Massachusetts and is currently a freshman at GWU. She is currently a psych major who hopes to one day work in a hospital as a trauma psychologist. Her happiest times are spent with large doses of caffeine adventuring and exploring new places all around the world.
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