Every year, individuals, health professionals, and health organizations acknowledge STD Awareness Week as a time to raise awareness about sexually transmitted diseases, discuss how they impact lives and communities, and share ways of preventing infection.
The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a sexually transmitted infection and that nearly 1 in 2 incident STIs are acquired by people aged 15 to 24 years old. This average can be seen even in state-specific data.
In 2019, there were over 25,000 reported cases of chlamydia in Mississippi, according to statistics from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). Out of that total, nearly 13,000 (12,696 or 50.1%) of those cases were reported from people aged 15 to 24.
These statistics make observances like STD Awareness Week all the more necessary in helping to create healthier communities. This year, STD Awareness Week is from April 10 to April 16. Read on for more information and for ways you can take part this year!
Make a Plan
Before you’re in the heat of the moment, make a plan. Start by building your knowledge base around STDs, and how to prevent infection. Then, especially if you’re sexually active, be sure to get tested. The CDC recommends getting tested at least once a year if you are sexually active. Check out our clinic finder if you’re not sure where your nearest clinic is. During your appointment, don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have about the testing process, signs and symptoms of infection or just general questions about your body.
Also–talk to your partner. Talk to them about contraception, share your knowledge, and talk to them about getting tested. Take their needs and comfort levels into account when forming your plan, in order to ensure that it is both effective against STIs while also fitting your life and health goals.
Break the Stigma
Stigma is one of the biggest reasons that people avoid getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
There are usually two forms of stigma: internalized stigma and externalized stigma. Internalized stigma, sometimes called “self-stigma”, happens when a person takes negative ideas, stereotypes, or negative associations related to an action and starts to apply them to themselves.
External stigma, sometimes called “enacted stigma”, refers to the unfair treatment a person experiences from others and can occur when a person is discriminated against for their beliefs, actions, or intentions. Both internalized and external stigma can lead to feelings of isolation, separation, or despair. These feelings can keep people from getting tested and treated for a sexually transmitted disease or infection.
By creating safe spaces, encouraging open dialogue, and offering support for people being tested or treated for an STI, you can help break the stigma. Doing so will have a profound impact, and can encourage more people to be unafraid to seek treatment.
Get the Facts
Get a head start on your plan by getting the facts. Check out our list of debunked sex myths and our detailed expert answers for quick access to the facts. You can also use our clinic finder to see what resources are available near you.
Resources for STD Awareness Week
Check out these resources below to learn more about STD Awareness Week and for more ways to support STD prevention:
Fact Not Fiction (FNF)
Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)