The Stigma of STIs

Our society refuses to acknowledge and talk about a very important and common occurrence when it comes to sex, that is sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They have become a topic that’s culturally ‘taboo’ to discuss. Why is that? Is ignoring them going to make them go away? Do we honestly believe that will work? This does not help lower the STI rates, as a matter of fact, it can only increase them due to the lack of knowledge people are presented with on how to prevent themselves from transmitting them.

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Another taboo isn’t just talking about STIs but having them. Society tends to make others feel bad or ‘gross’ if they happen to have one. STIs are very common and anyone who has been sexually active can have contracted one. According to ashasexualhealth.org, an informative American Sexual Health Association, one in two people who are sexually active will get an STI by their mid-twenties and one in eight people in the U.S. have genital herpes.

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People with STIs aren’t necessarily people who’ve been ‘sleeping around’ or any other stereotype one wants to throw in; they actually are REGULAR PEOPLE. Famous celebrities, according to wordsiseek.com and starswithherpes.com, have contracted STIs such as herpes simplex virus, like Derek Jeter who reportedly passed it onto many actresses like Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel. People who have been diagnosed with an STI still have and can have fully functional dating and sex lives.

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I was in a past relationship with someone who was diagnosed with an STI, although it added complications this did not stop me from exploring a true connection with someone. I was scared at first and wasn’t familiar with this, but I decided I cared about the person enough to not let a setback get in the way. I did all the research I could and we ended up being able to have a fulfilling relationship regardless of the STI and without transmitting it. I asked my partner at the time how they felt about having to disclose this with partners and the fear of being rejected once they’ve told someone, they responded, “I wouldn’t want to be with anyone who wasn’t able to understand it and accept me anyway.”

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That past relationship helped me open my eyes to the stigma that’s surrounding STIs in society and how unethical it is for a person to judge or belittle someone who has an STI. They are very common and anyone can have one that’s been sexually active not just someone who ‘has a lot of sex.’ I would like people to know and understand that just because someone has been diagnosed with an STI does not mean they can’t date or have sex ever again, it just entails something one will need to disclose with future partners. In addition, never feel embarrassed about getting tested and utilize Planned Parenthood's services to get tested if you’re sexually active or have concerns.