Imagine this scenario...
You have been actively dating for a long time. You have matured in your expectation of others and what you really want in a partner. It has finally paid off. You have met someone worth emotionally investing in and things have grown to a place of what you may believe to be love.
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One quiet evening alone things heat up and before anything can continue, you realize you are stuck. You have been keeping a secret. You have an STD and you don't know how to tell your partner because you fear they will not want to be with you any longer.
What do you do?
Nothing is harder to talk about than an STD. This topic brings upon so much shame and embarrassment. Many people have told me they would rather have a criminal history or be in recovery from a drug addiction then live with a current STD.
Why is there so much shame and embarrassment surrounding this issue? Why is it so taboo?
I believe, as a society we just don't normalize this issue enough. In school at an early age, we are shown horrific films outlining "prevention" that actually perpetuates the shame and embarrassment of STDs instead of normalizing it and effectively preventing youth from engaging in unprotected sex. Using protection will almost always guarantee that you do not contract any STDs, however, there continues to be a high number of people that still suffer from them.
This leads to one of two conclusions: either people continue to lack the education and/or there are additional factors that are not commonly discussed.
I believe it is a combination of both.
Prevention can always be improved upon, but since the population that suffers the most is the 15-24 age range, we have to ask what is it about that age group? It is clear to me that it is the invincibility factor. Young adults are generally limited in their ability to delay instant gratification long enough to make the right choices and if you add any emotional problems to the equation, things get even more complicated.
More energy needs to go into addressing this issue from a psychological perspective. In other words, school age children need to be talked to about their values regarding sex and intimacy so referrals for support groups or counseling can be made to help youth have a better understanding of their own sexuality. Unfortunately, it is not just about asking a teenager to use a condom.
Regardless of what has caused the high number of STDs, the issue as people mature is how do you address it in your current relationship and when do you have the talk about your own sexual history?
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However, the most important thing for people who currently suffer from an incurable STD is that you are no longer invincible and now you must be responsible. It is your responsibility to tell your new partners if you are currently infected with an STD.
1. Do you have or have you had an STD? If you had one many years ago and it is gone then it is a personal choice if you want to disclose it or not. There really is no right or wrong here.