Sexual Transmitted Diseases are on the rise this year, showing that the rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, have increased at an all time high. The CDC reports that nearly 400,000 cases of gonorrhea and nearly 24,000 cases of syphilis.
Last year, there were more than 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, a disease that can damage a woman's reproductive system, making it difficult to concessive; syphilis------ miscarriage, blindness or strokes.
Only 33% of millennials 18-34 getting regular checkups and testing, according to the CDC, there has been an increasing number of STD cases emerging, with many of the government made preventative systems eroding. Is it because of the lack comprehensive sexual education or is the generation not as informed as it should be?
Storytime: Back in High School we had a syphilis outbreak or so I heard, all I remember is 1. Three Boys had syphilis or were to have it (turned into 10 boys by 2:30pm) 2. A girl gave it to them. OH and 3. When I asked one of my classmates what was going on, he told me with a straight face not to worry because he doesn’t have it because Boys get gonorrhea and well, girls get syphilis and chlamydia.
Now, I can’t fault him for not knowing because we lived and still live in a time where some of us are not afforded comprehensive sex ed or any kind of sexual education. Unless, you were curious, watched those awkward after school specials, or even watched Girlfriends when Toni contracted chlamydia (first time a show about African women spoke about STD, openly); you probably didn’t grow up knowing what exactly STD’s were.
*Note: STDs don’t discriminate based on gender, class, ethnicity, background, or sexual orientation*
I think it's safe to say, we all know their names, and we have an inkling of how we contract these diseases, but we really don’t understand what these diseases are aka The Three Most Common STD’s
Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis are infections caused by a kind of bacteria that is passed during sexual contact, unprotected sex: vaginal, anal, and oral. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can infect both the throat and reproductive systems and often occur together because there aren't any outward symptoms, some individuals aren't aware of their status. On the other hand, syphilis occurs in stages, the bacteria easily spreads and enter the body through a cut in the skin or through contact, commonly through the vagina, anus, or penis.
According to Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC's Division of STD Prevention “The resurgence of congenital syphilis and the increasing impact of syphilis among gay and bisexual men makes it clear that many Americans are not getting the preventive services they need.” Even though this generation is one of the most well informed, are still more vulnerable to infections because fewer people have access to testing and treatment resources, places to ask for advice or help, and may not be as informed about protective measures. All three can be treated by antibiotics but because individuals are not aware of their status, often times the disease goes untreated or unnoticed. There are places like Planned Parenthood, Women’s Health Centers, and some shelters depending on your state or city, who are licensed to admit testing and STI test at the local pharmacy ie Walgreens.
Hopefully, talking about the risk of STIs, better access to STI screenings, and sexual health education, as well as, educating ourselves and each other on these subjects will change, reduce, or at least make ourselves aware of the issues.