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.
In this week’s sexual health roundup: scientists use engineered stem-cells to attack HIV; California tests a new pill that prevents HIV infection when taken daily but some question how expensive it is; the CDC releases alarming data on cancers caused by HPV in women; and South Carolina lawmakers take steps to increase HPV vaccination among middle school students.
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 confront the most often-repeated misrepresentations, I ask readers to consider these ten assertions about sexual health and education in the United States.
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.
One in two sexually active people will get an STD by age 25, but most won’t even know it. Just as abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy, the only way to be sure of your STD status is to get tested. April is the time to do it—STD Awareness Month.