While STD stigma is reducing world over and many countries making huge strides in addressing important sexual issues such as sex, sexual health, rape, abortion, gender identity, contraception etc. one issue is still rampant; youths are not going for STD testing.
When it comes to addressing STDs effectively, information, testing, diagnosis, treatment and being able to talk about one’s sexual behaviour is important. While many governments are fully addressing information access, testing, diagnosis and treatment, talking about one’s sexuality is still an issue.
This is a very important step in fighting STDs globally but it’s an aspect that is often neglected and taken for granted. This has major implications helping to increase STD rates world over.
STD cases especially among young people are on the rise in most countries. Despite this rise, more youths report to skip STD testing. Only about 12% of young people report to have been tested for STDs at least once. This is sad because about 58% of high schoolers are reported to be sexually active putting them at great risk of contracting STDs.
1 in 2 Sexually Active People will Get an STD by Age 25
According to statistics, one in every two sexually active people will contract an STD by the time they are 25 years old. Unfortunately, many youths are more comfortable discussing their debts than they are about STDs.
This is largely due to the fact that there is still stigma surrounding this topic and there is feeling of fear, shame, and embarrassment. This mean very many people refuse to discuss STDs with healthcare providers. It is almost taboo to discuss the topic with sexual partners and friends.
It’s important to open up this discussion because many STDs don’t have symptoms and one can only know if they are at risk by analysing their sexual behaviour. Diagnosis then becomes difficult when sexual health becomes a taboo topic.
Breaking Down Barriers to STD Testing
It is very important that young people are educated by the proper authorities about STDs and the importance of getting tested. It also important to emphasis that testing is easy, quick, cheap, and most importantly confidential.
To help young people take charge of their sexual health, it important that communication is encouraged by removing shame, denial and uncertainty. This will promote better conversations about one’s sexual health.
It’s important that concerned authorities encourage the youths to have open and honest sexual health discussions with their peers. They should make sexual health discussions commonplace for young people so that those who open up don’t feel like they are doing the wrong thing.
It’s also important for people in authority such as teachers and parents not to demonise sex but rather support everyone’s right to make a conscious, consensual choice to whether have sex or not.
It’s also important for healthcare providers to normalise STD testing among the young people by encouraging dialogue with them. Healthcare providers should not wait until young people come in specifically for STD testing to talk to them about their sexual health, but make it common practice to educate them even if they are there for other tests.