A recent report on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States revealed that new cases of STDs are at an all-time high. One of the greatest factors leading to the increase is stigma. For Latinas, who are at even greater risk for contracting STIs like HIV, these new findings are especially troubling.
A new study revealed that young women who are having sex are not actively having conversations with their doctors about STDs.
Findings from a survey conducted by Quest Diagnostics revealed a correlation between the high rates of STDs and insufficient communication between healthcare providers and their patients. In addition, the survey revealed that stigmas and misinformation around STDs as well as mother-daughter relationships are factors deterring young women from getting tested. The study looked into young women between the ages of 15 and 24 as well as mothers of women in that age range and their understandings of sexual health and STDs.
The survey found that when it came to their sexual health, most young women are taking risks.
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In the survey about perceptions of sexual health and STDs, 56 percent of the young women surveyed said that they were sexually active. Of that number, 39 percent said that they had used a condom the last time they had sex. Despite opting out of this form of protection, nine in 10 of the sexually active women surveyed said that they believed they were not vulnerable to chlamydia or gonorrhea. This is all despite the fact that statistics underline women of a younger age are even more at risk of contracting an STD. Nearly half of all people reporting new cases of STD are those who fall into the age range of 15 to 24.
The survey found that when young women were faced with discussing their sexual history and health, many were not having honest conversations.
The survey’s findings revealed that among the women who open up about being sexually active, only 56 percent have ever received a screening for an STD. Twenty-seven percent said that they did not feel comfortable talking to a clinician about sex. Twenty-seven percent revealed that they had previously lied about their sexual history. But the hesitancy to talk about STDs goes both ways for patient and physician.
The survey also obtained responses from primary care doctors, OB/GYN specialists and medical practitioners whose expertise lie in sexual health fields and found that physicians and medical specialists are also timid when it comes to bringing up STDs. While only 28 percent of the women surveyed reported having asked a clinician for an STD testing, 49 percent said that they had never even been asked to receive an STD testing by a clinician. This is despite the fact the CDC recommends that clinicians annually test patients for STDs, even those who do not show symptoms.
Lowering your risks of contracting STDs and their effects are simple.
They can be as easy as talking honestly with your clinician about sexual activity and preventing exposure to STDs by using protection such as condoms. Of course, none of these, coupled with annually STD screenings, will guarantee that you will not contract an STI, but they will certainly reduce your chances.