Although a sexually transmitted disease/infection is quite common, people who are diagnosed with an STD often feel the shame and guilt of having one.
to the CDC, there are about 20 million new STD cases each year, with
many more cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia unreported or
unknown. The reality is that these diseases are tied to sexual
behavior, and it makes people nervous to talk about. Even though
anybody having sex can get an STD, it’s still difficult to talk
people have some type of STD and don’t realize it. For example, HPV
is the most common STD in the U.S., which about 79 million people
infected around the country. 80 percent of people who have sex have
been exposed to the HPV virus, with more than half of the infections
occurring in people younger than 25.
is spread through anal or vaginal sex, and anybody sexually active is
risking exposure to an STI. In most cases, HPV will clear up on its
own and cause no other health problems. HPV has dozens of strains,
with some of them causing cervical cancer. Other kinds of HPV can
lead to genital warts in both men and women.
are often confused about who can and cannot get an STD. However,
people should understand that having an STD means a person is normal.
It would seem, because of this, that talking about STDs or STIs would
be as easy to talk about diabetes or cholesterol.
person who finds out they have an STD may feel like they’re alone.
Psychotherapist Anita Gadhia-Smith said people need to educate
themselves about their condition as much as possible. By doing this,
they learn that millions of people have an STD and that most
infections can be treated.
said after learning the facts about their disease, they can avoid the
stigma people have and live normal, healthy sexual lives.
also encourages people to join some type of support group after
getting diagnosed with an STD. These groups can give them an array of
information about their disease including the various treatment
options available and allow you to share your own fears and anxiety
about the disease.
who’d rather not join a support group where they see people
face-to-face can check out an online support group to help them deal
with their diagnosis without getting too personal. There are several
online support groups for chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes and
HIV a person can use to help them through the tough times.
shameful feelings you have should never be kept secret. By keeping
them a secret, you only add to your pain. Of course, you should only
tell someone you trust or share it with the person you are dating. Be
sure to choose your “people” wisely. You could also talk to your
doctor or therapist.
anyone in your life is shaming you for your STI diagnosis, it’s
time to cut them loose. You already feel bad enough; you don’t need
them piling it on worse. This is not a friendship. Anybody who shames
you for an STD has shamed you for other things you may or may not
An STD is not the end of the world, and by learning about your condition, you don’t have to live with the stigma any longer. Learn everything you can and remember to talk to someone you trust. If you don’t have a trusted person, consider talking to your doctor about your feelings. There’s nothing to be shamed about anymore.
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With college back in session, the NJ AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline is reminding students they can be independent and enjoy all the social activities without suffering any of the unintentional mistakes such as drug overdose, drug misuse, unplanned pregnancies, sexual assaults and STDs.