Tag Archives: public health

It’s STD Awareness Month–Do you know where your junk’s been?

17 Apr

Alternate Title: Check yo self before you wreck yo self

Happy STD Awareness Month, everyone!  Even though we all know that we should be aware of our sexual health every month, let’s pay really close attention this month.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, people age 15-24 are responsible for almost half of new STD (also referred to as STI–Sexually Transmitted Infection) cases every year.  There could be a few reasons for this:

1) We’re having more sex, with more people, than our older counterparts.  Stands to reason that mathematical chance alone would account for some of the higher prevalence.

2) We’re not given the information or tools necessary to take charge of our own health.  Take sex ed, for example.  Only 21 states mandate sex ed in schools, and many teens are still having to sit through medically inaccurate, BS abstinence-only lessons.  As far as access to services, every state theoretically allows teens to consent to sexual health care, but barriers still exist.  The recent firestorm in Springfield over the School Committee’s decision to allow condom access and education for students illustrates the overwhelming resistance to acknowledging the sexual health needs of teens and young adults.  The problem with shooing teen sex under the rug is that not addressing an issue doesn’t make it not exist.

3) We’re being stupid.  Even with information and access, some people still choose to engage in unsafe behavior, or behavior that puts their partner(s) in an unsafe position.  That is just nonsense; stop it.  I recently read an article in which the author bragged about lying to her gyno.  What!?  I mean, I know doctors can be somewhat intimidating (especially if you’re in the younger end of that 15-24 age bracket), but come on.  Would you lie to your PCP about flu symptoms or to your dermatologist about a mole?

Bottom line: get tested, get vaccinated, and get a condom before you get it on.

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Boys get HPV too

30 Oct

Which is only one good reason to vaccinate them.  The other good reason?  They also give it to their partners.  There have been many studies that have proven the “no duh” link between men’s HPV status and their female partners’ risk of contracting the virus, especially strains that lead to cervical cancer.  Current research is also highlighting the link between non-vaginal sex and HPV transmission.

The CDCP this week finally recommended that boys as young as 11 get the three-shot HPV vaccine.  Before, their official stance was the non-stance of leaving it up to patients/parents/physicians.

Too many people still are deciding against the vaccination of both girls/women and boys/men.   Sure, there are a few practical downsides to the vaccine, such as cost and time commitment.  These have led to widening health inequities that shouldn’t be ignored.  But genital warts and the fourth-deadliest cancer in women worldwide are pretty costly and time-consuming to take care of, too.

The reasons most often cited for opposition to the vaccine in fact have nothing to do with reason at all, but rather misguided notions about sexuality.  Say it with me now: Provision of safer sex methods do not make teens have more sex (or for that matter, any other non-heterosexually-married-in-the-eyes-of-God adult that conservatives want to keep chaste).   I mean, if it did, so what?  But I digress…

Point is, HPV is a problem that is easily almost entirely preventable.  On an individual level, even if you don’t think your child is sexually active, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?  And from a public health standpoint, all vaccines work better the greater the uptake.  Some very real barriers to access do need to be addressed, but illogical, factually incorrect fear-mongering shouldn’t be one of them.

Public Health PSA

17 Oct

Overheard at the Harvard School of Public Health:

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Might I also just add that the road to STD’s and unplanned pregnancy is also paved with good intentions.”

Lesson of the day: