never easy to give patients bad news, but it’s even worse when that
bad news happens to be about a sexually transmitted disease or
infection (STD or STI). It’s not uncommon for patients to take the
news hard. However, thankfully, many STDs and STIs can be cured, and
for those not curable, they can still be managed.
show that one in two people will become afflicted with an STI before
they turn 25. But, it’s the headlines of “STDs are at an
all-time” make it hard to overcome the stigma of having an STI or
STD. It’s even harder for a person to actually talk about their
disease and experience. This stigma affects how often a person –
man or woman – get tested for STDs.
to the Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health study, 37
percent of men and 70 percent of women have been tested for STDs in
the last year. The number one reason for not getting tested is the
fear of society’s attitudes toward being STD positive.
some patients are taking matters into their own hands and getting
tested for STDs, there is still a rise in STIs and STDs in the
general public. STIs such as HPV are extremely common with one study
finding that 79 million in the U.S. living with it. 80 percent of
sexually active individuals will get HPV at some time in their lives.
in two people will contract oral herpes, and one in eight will
contract genital herpes. However, the American Sexual Health
Association finds that 90 percent of people don’t know they have
knowing how prevalent these diseases are, the stigma behind them is
very powerful. Think about the way in which mainstream media uses
STDs and STIs. Many comedians use people who have herpes in their
jokes. The language in talking about STDs and STIs is very damaging.
When people read about STDs and STIs, the language is exaggerated -
calling it an epidemic because millions of people are a carrier.
problem patients are faced with – when diagnosed with an STD – is
that there is limited privacy, as they have to tell their partners
they have a disease. Who really wants to be considered a carrier?
the reality: most people will meet someone with a sexual partner who
has an STI or STD even though they also have one themselves. People
need to stop looking at those who have an STD or STI has an infection
and carrier, and see them as human beings.
order to treat people with an STI or STD is to recognize that many
people can manage their daily symptoms and are usually severe. For
instance, people with herpes may have an outbreak of one blister that
goes away within a couple of days. For others, it’s a longer and
larger outbreak. When using medication and proper treatment, the
symptoms don’t last, and they can go on living years without
crucial to change how people talk about STD or STI-infected
individuals, which starts with education about what it means to live
with one and how it looks. With education, STD individuals can learn
how widespread STDs and STIs are and recognizing it’s not a life
that, they can talk to their doctor and get tips on how to be treated
and how to talk to a potential partner about STDs and STIs. The more
a person knows, the better off they’ll be for their sexual health.
are some of the questions patients need to ask their doctor? They
- Can STIs still be transmitted through a condom? Which ones?
- Which STDs are permanent and which are temporary?
- How many people have STD partners?
When you know the facts, it significantly lessens the stigma of STDs and STIs and increases the chance of patients talking openly with their partners and themselves about the diseases. It’s very important people learn how to manage and treat their sexually transmitted diseases, and to remember that it’s not a shame to have one anymore. It’s not a life sentence that ruins a person’s romantic life.