An Op-Ed about STD Stigma – Part 2

StigmaThis essay was submitted anonymously after the author participated in the STD Interviews. This is part 2 of a 3 part series.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re having sex, you are putting yourself at risk for an STD, and you should be getting tested for STDs.

Most STDs don’t have symptoms, and the person you’re sleeping with could be transmitting one to you, even though they claim to be disease-free.

STDs Do Not Discriminate

STDs don’t discriminate. They don’t care how many people you have slept with or if you’re a good person. They don’t care if you are clean or dirty, if you have a lot of money, or if you’re broke. They simply need a human body to survive.

We are all human, and, if we’re sexually active, we are all at risk. It only takes one time with one infected person to become infected.

For instance, HIV doesn’t have significant symptoms upon initial infection and may lie dormant in a human body for years. In some cases, the person never notices symptoms. A person infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV1 or HSV2) doesn’t show symptoms of infection right away either. Herpes can remain asymptomatic for months, years, and, in some cases, it never reaches a symptomatic stage.

However, in both of those examples, a person can transmit the virus whether or not they are symptomatic (showing symptoms). For those reasons, a large number of the people living with sexually transmitted diseases are completely unaware they’re infected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV/AIDS alone. One fifth of those people don’t know they are infected.

A Common Example

Imagine two people (Person A & Person B) who have been married for 5 years.

Person A has only had sexual relations with Person B. Person B, however, has had sex with 2 other people prior to their marriage, one of which was infected with HIV. Person B unknowingly infects Person A, and Person A doesn’t know they are infected until after unrelated blood work reveals an abnormally low T-cell count.

Was Person B careless? Was Person B sleeping with a bunch of people? Is Person B poor, dirty, or a cheater? No. In fact, none of those things are true about either person. 

That is precisely why it is so crucial that anyone who is doing any sort of sexual activity be tested regularly.

All Sexually Active People are At Risk

Anyone who has ever engaged in sex, and not just vaginal intercourse, is at risk. It does not matter if you have had sex with 50 people or just 2. 

Some STDs are temporary and can be cured, but will not go away on their own, and others are permanent infections. That is why it is important to be informed about STDs.

STDs are a relevant problem, because so many people are sexually active.

That is why I find it utterly confusing that people continue to lambaste something which occurs so frequently. You simply cannot judge a person for having an STD, because there is no way of knowing that person’s background or story.

A disease is not a significant representation of someone’s character or personality. 

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This essay was submitted anonymously after the author participated in the STD Interviews. This is part 1 of a 3 part series. The author is 20 years old and a full time student at Northwestern Michigan College. Her intended major is Philosophy, with her primary interest being Metaphysics – she hopes to transfer to the University of Notre Dame. Aside from philosophy, another one of her passions is the importance of raw food-ism and holistic healing. Her ultimate goals are to teach Philosophy to college students and be able to live an abundant, organic lifestyle. 

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How did this story affect you? What do think about the stigma surrounding STDs and those who have them? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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