STD testing should not be stigmatized or viewed negatively

12 November 2019

Joy Webb

jwebb4@uccs.edu

One in four college students has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to nursingschools.net. Not only is this statistic shocking, but it is even more disheartening that many students would rather not get tested for an STD, because of the negative stigma surrounding this.

Also, according to nursingschools.net, in the larger population, this works out to 50 percent of people getting an STD at some time in their life. An article by The Atlantic reported that rates of gonorrhea rose by 67 percent, syphilis by 76 percent, and chlamydia by 21 percent, to a total of almost 2.3 million cases nationwide. According to the CDC, 2017 surpassed 2016 as the year with the most reported STD cases on record—and marked the fourth year in a row that STDs increased steeply in the U.S.A.

Most STD testing is covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, and some colleges, like UCCS, offer opportunities to get tested on campus for free. So, why aren’t people getting tested?

It can be embarrassing to have an STD and uncomfortable and nerve-wracking to go get tested. I can attest that it is an uncomfortable situation, but only because we have made it this way. With more advanced medical technology, it should be more encouraging to get tested and get treated, but it is still stigmatized, I would argue especially for females, to get checked.

Having an STD means that you are having sex and so does getting tested; so perhaps the stigma revolves around sex more than testing or STD’s. Either way, it should not be embarrassing to get checked regularly to prevent the spread of a disease and to get treated yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 15–24. Even though young people account for half of new STI cases, a recent survey showed only about 12 percent were tested for STIs in the last year.

As college students, it should be a priority to get tested if we are sexually active. If resources are an issue, ask a health care provider or an on-campus department, like the Wellness Center, how you can get tested. Planned Parenthood is also a good option for college students to get tested, as they have openings all throughout the week, and you can schedule a testing online.

If laziness is the issue, reevaluate your priorities. If embarrassment is the main concern, get tested regardless of how it will make you feel at the time. You are arguably a more responsible person for getting tested and preventing spread of a disease, so any stigmas surrounding STD testing are nonsensical.

Unless you are abstinent, we all have sex. So, let’s not only practice safe sex, but also get checked regularly for common STD’s that can sometimes be cured by simply taking antibiotics.

Nothing is more important than human health and safety; not even a reputation.

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