STD Stigma!

Article Media

It’s STD Awareness Week and we are digging into STD stigma. Did you know that half of new STD infections occur in young people, aged 15-25? That means that STDs are particularly common in teens and young adults. Yet there is still a lot of stigma and shame when it comes to having or even talking about STDs. This stigma can be dangerous because it means that people don’t have conversations with their partners about STDs or are afraid or ashamed to get tested for them.

This month, we asked the TeenSource Youth Advisory Board to help us break down STD stigma.

Where does STD stigma come from?

“The stigma around STDs comes from assumptions and a lack of knowledge on the subject. Teens and young adults who aren’t educated on STDs and sexual health can make assumptions and comments about STDs that are harmful to themselves and their peers.”

– J, 17, Sacramento

“I think the stigma comes from the media. There are a lot of shows and movies that are based off of the idea that STDs are bad and essentially life-threatening.”

– A, 16, Stockton

Lack of education about STDs and negative portrayals in popular culture help to contribute to STD stigma for young people. Understanding how common STDs are, what they are, how to get tested for them, and how to cure or treat them can help reduce STD stigma. Check out our STD page to review the basics, and share TeenSource information with your friends to help spread knowledge and not stigma! Pop culture (movies/television/memes) can also sensationalize STDs or make jokes about having an STD just to get a cheap laugh. STDs are not a joke and they can affect anyone. Remember: There is nothing different or “worse” about someone who has an STD. Also, having an STD doesn’t mean that someone has had many sexual partners.

What can be done to reduce STD stigma?

“Comprehensive sex ed and talking about sexual health more often can help break the stigma around STDs.”

 – J, 17, Sacramento

“Moving forward, I believe the best way to alleviate some of the stigma is through significantly improving sex education and curriculum in schools.”

– D, 16, Santa Clarita

Improved education around sexual health and preventing STDs is an important step to reduce STD stigma. In California, comprehensive sex ed is required at all public high schools, including charter schools. But, that does not always mean all of your questions are answered. If you still have questions about STDs, what they are and how to prevent them, join us tomorrow, April 7, on our TeenSource Instagram (@teensourceorg) for an AMA (ask me anything)! In celebration of STD Awareness Week, we will be responding to your STD questions throughout the day.

Remember, STDs can affect anyone. The best way to prevent against STDs is abstinence but if you choose to have sex in the future when California stay at home orders are lifted, talking to your partner, using a condom, and getting tested are important ways to protect yourself. STD testing is easy and free for teens in California so when the current safer at home orders are lifted, you can find a clinic near you and make a plan to get tested.