Even though our society has become more open and honest about topics relating to sex, there remains a certain stigma around sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Many people feel embarrassed about contracting an STI, feeling as if they’ve done something wrong in their intimate lives. Unfortunately, there are numbers attached to this unnecessary sense of shame: in the case of chlamydia alone, only 1.4 million infections out of 1.8 million total in the U.S. were reported in 2014.
Dr. Rosen and the team at Recovery Care want to end the stigma, ensuring that everyone who may have an STI feels comfortable getting tested so they can move forward and receive the treatment they need. If you fear you may have an STI, here are some things to remember about getting tested:
Sexually-Transmitted Infections are Common.
While having an STI or getting an STI test may feel like an embarrassing, alienating experience, the reality is that STIs are extremely common, especially among young people who are sexually active. Check out these statistics for a little perspective:
- Studies show that one in two sexually active people will contract an STI by age 25.
- Researchers estimate that at least 80% of sexually active people will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime, though instances have decreased significantly with the introduction of the first HPV vaccine.
- In the United States alone, around 1 in 8 people between the ages of 14-49 has genital herpes.
- At least 1 in 50 people aged 15-24 are diagnosed with chlamydia every year in the U.S., and about 1 in 200 contract gonorrhea.
It’s Better to Know.
There are nearly endless reasons why it’s better to get tested, know your status and begin treatment as soon as possible. Sexually-transmitted infections are exactly as they sound - transmittable - and certain conditions such as herpes can be passed between partners who may not even be aware of their symptoms. The sooner you know if you’re positive for an STI, the sooner you can begin informing previous partners that they need to get tested, and the sooner you can move toward untransmittable status yourself. Additionally, STIs left untreated for a long period of time significantly increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cervical and penile cancers.
You Don’t Have to Go Alone.
Once you’ve made an appointment to get tested, you may be feeling anxiety about the upcoming experience. Firstly, it’s important to remember that no one, especially not your doctor, is judging you. This is an extremely routine medical service we provide, and our only concern is your safety and healing. Secondly, you don’t have to go through this process by yourself. If you are able to communicate with your partner, especially the last person you had sex with before your symptoms arose, it’s important that you do - sharing the experience can give you peace of mind, and they may need to be tested themselves. You can even bring a friend to support you as you wait.
It’s Not the End of the World.
To give yourself some perspective, you may want to think of the potential outcomes of your STI test. Maybe you do test positive. So what? Most common STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, are completely curable with antibiotics. As for recurring viral infections like genital herpes, they are completely manageable, and with diligent care you can return to life (and sex) as normal. If your test does come up positive, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is sensitive to your individual needs. If not, you’ve been brave enough to give yourself peace of mind and move forward.
If you fear you may have an STI, or would simply like to be tested to be sure, we can help. The team at Recovery Care will work with you to develop a personalized care plan that revolves around your needs and goals.
Dr. Rosen is now able to accept patients with Maryland Medicaid! Request an appointment today and take the first step toward being your best self.