Thirty years of public health science clearly demonstrates that providing young people with information about the health benefits of both abstinence and contraception and condoms, does not cause young people to initiate sex earlier or have sex more often. Abstinence-only-until marriage programs leave young people unprepared. They are unethical.
Sexually transmitted infections cost the U.S. health care system $17 billion every year — and that number doesn’t even take into account the amount STDs cost to individuals in short-term and long-term consequences. We need more funding to prevent and treat these infections.
Have you ever wondered how epidemics are controlled? Well, you can thank your local DIS for that.
It is easy to overlook seniors when we see the dire numbers around STIs and teens, yet we remain at risk for sexually transmitted infections as we age.
Coming from the public health perspective, it isn’t a fun job to notify someone about their exposure to an STD, but it is fulfilling to know that you have helped keep someone healthy. So the next time the phone rings, keep in mind, it may not be the call you want, but it may be the call you get and it will help protect you.
Sometimes I wonder if we are not missing the larger picture. Perhaps instead of talking about preventing STDs and treating an illness, maybe we could talk in terms of promoting sexual health.
Sexual education and empowerment leads not only to responsible and respectful sexual behaviors and attitudes but also an increased access to effective preventative, screening, treatment, and support services that promote physical and sexual well-being. But we need integrated approaches and more connection to achieve our goals.
We need to make sure that young people are getting tested if they have had unprotected sex, getting educated, and using the tools and resources available to them to prevent both STD transmission and unintended pregnancy.
STIs affect people of all races, ages, and sexual orientations, though some individuals experience greater challenges in protecting their health. When individual risk behaviors are combined with barriers to quality health information and STI prevention services, the risk of infection increases. Increasing access to testing is key.
To ensure quality sexual and reproductive health and address economic burdens, continued efforts to educate, screen, test, and treat for STDs is critical to our nation’s public health and well-being.