STDs: Stigma vs Reality Part I

What is the worst part about contracting an STD? Is it facing the reality that maybe you weren’t as careful as you could be? Or is it contracting something society deems as disgusting and shameful?

Over the course of decades, we have seen a growing number of people contracting an STD. Last year, it was reported by the CDC that 20 million people have an STD each year and half of that are people from ages 15-24. STDs are more prevalent now than they have ever been. You would think that with them being as prevalent as they are, that people would not ridicule or humiliate those affected. However, this happens often and as a result, people choose not to disclose their condition to others: contributing to the spread. So because I feel no one should ever feel this way, it’s not my intention to normalize STDs but to contribute to ending the stigma by starting the conversation.

The biggest reason for increased cases is because sex has become very casual. I believe everyone should be free to make their own choices regarding sex without being judged. However, I also believe that because the numbers are constantly rising, everyone should be extremely cautious and protect themselves at all time. Although I advise everyone to be cautious, be cautious for the right reasons.

Step one to ending the stigma is understanding the biological basis of it.  Understand that practicing safe sex is no different than practicing washing your hands before you eat or covering your cough. The most common STDs among the population are caused by contracting harmful bacteria and viruses ; the same causes of strep throat, UTIs, common cold, and the flu. When you consider it from this perspective, you can see that despite its stigmatizing description, a sexually transmitted disease, it is nothing more than an infection or health condition. Stay tuned for Part 2!