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Stigmas about STDs may be reducing testing

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Stigmas surrounding sexually transmitted diseases may be reducing the amount of STD testing, according to a new study. The research found that many Americans, especially those who are college-aged, were resistant to the idea of STD tests because the results could potentially be embarrassing, even in the company of medical professionals.

The stigma of STDs
The study, published in the American Journal of Health, noted that many young people shied away from proper STD testing because they felt embarrassed of reporting their symptoms to medical professionals. A lab test online can provide the privacy that many young people seek when it comes to being diagnosed with STDs, which can allow treatment to begin.

"I would simply say that norms, with regard to sexual behavior, are very ambiguous and inconsistent, so there are lots of stigmas related to behavior that seem to be applied inconsistently, unfairly and unreasonably. STDs have stigmas because they are taken to indicate sexual promiscuity or misbehavior," Scott Field, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Purdue University, told The Exponent.

Privacy is a large issue for young people seeking STD testing and advice, noted Field. While the issue affects many young people, many of those past college age may also be concerned about discretion when it comes to lab tests about their sexual health.

STDs and sexual partners
A new study from Indiana University found that communication between couples could also be difficult when it comes to STDs. The study surveyed 181 sexually active men and women of the average age of 26 through an anonymous online panel. A little more than half of the participants stated that they felt comfortable when it came to discussing STDs with their partners.

The results of the study also revealed that many people did not use condoms, whether or not they had discussed STDs with their partner. This can greatly increase the spread of STDs, especially when it comes to partners who did not discuss their STD status.

The study also found that nearly half of participants did not get STD testing before engaging in sexual activity with a new partner, regardless of whether they discussed the presence of STDs. Many partners also claimed to have been tested even if they had not been before their last partner.

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