Guest Blogger: Jenna
Sexually transmitted diseases can sometimes feel like taboo urban myths. Scientifically, we know a lot about how these diseases work and how to cure them. College students especially can have a hard time approaching this topic with partners.
Health campaigns do warn about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, but other STDs tend to get swept under the umbrella “STD” term. Safe sex is an important concept for you to understand as a sexually active person, but it’s a misconception to believe that safe sex is the only component to STD prevention.
HPV is Harmless
The CDC says that there are over 40 types of human papillomavirus that target the genitals of human males and females. HPV lives on the skin of the carrier, which means that you can get the disease by coming into contact with a partner that has an HPV outbreak. Health concerns range from outbreaks of warts, to cancer. Women are especially susceptible to ovarian and cervical cancer, which is why I listen to my doctor’s recommendation and get screened yearly.
The best way to cut your risk nof HPV infection is to wear condoms with partners when you are not in a committed relationship.
Health Insurance is Required for STD Testing
Free STD testing is confidential and easy to acquire in most of the country. Your state might run a database of nearby Health Testing Centers where patients can get tested for free, or at a low cost. Locations are all across the west, east and central United States in health clinics and private practices.
I’ve also found some drug stores carry STD testing kits that you can use to test for HIV, Chlamydia, Gonnorhea and others. I do not believe these are infallible, so double check with your doctor to confirm test results. If you are over 25 like me, get tested yearly by a medical professional.
Prostitution Legalization Leads to Decreased STD Rates
A friend of mine brought up a point that in Amsterdam STD rates are lower than countries where sex work is illegal. So I looked it up. It turns out that legal prostitutes are not required by law to use a condom during sex in Amsterdam, but workers were equipped with more knowledge about the dangers of sex as a whole and that led to the decrease. In countries where prostitution is legalized, the system is more regulated and health and law enforcement officials are more willing to respond to issues involved with the trade.
Here in the states, the pornography industry requires extensive documentation for its workers and still has outbreaks. A recent case in California also shows that the industry is taking steps toward protecting performers through mandated condom usage. Evidence does seem to suggest that sex industries with high amounts of regulation may have lower rates of infection. However, this is most likely due to the worker’s proactive approach to sexual health.
STDs End Your Sex Life
Being honest about your STD infection does not end sex forever, but it is a difficult decision to make. Educate yourself on safe ways that you can continue to have sex with your partners by talking with doctors and studying your STD online. I had a friend who was HIV positive and in a committed relationship with the same man for four years. They just needed to be careful during sex, and the same goes for any infection.
Lying to your partner is also not a good foundation for a sustained relationship. Establish a bond of trust, and ease into “the talk.” People can be surprisingly understanding if you arm them with the proper facts.
STD Testing is Painful and Invasive
STD testing usually involves drawing blood from the patient to be analyzed in a lab, so aside from that minor discomfort there is little pain involved in the process. Certain tests, like gonorrhea, may require the doctor to swab the area for infection. If you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex, be sure to let your doctor know so that he or she can test those areas for infection. STD testing is also part of your medical record and is subject to patient confidentiality.
Condoms are an Outdated Concept
Other forms of contraception stop fertilization from occurring, but condoms can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Using spermicidal gel is also another way to safeguard from pregnancy, but not from STDs. Visit a health clinic and ask for free condoms during your visit. Love and relationships are already complicated without dealing with medical problems. If you want your relationship to stay safe, practice honesty and safety with your partner.