Sexually transmitted infections

Over the years, we’ve seen fluctuating rates of sexually transmitted infections [1]. Although it is not accurate, I picture a trend similar to a bell curve to understand the rates. We initially saw a static number in the amount of cases surrounding the discovery of a disease, an exponential increase in the subsequent years, and then a decrease as people became aware and educated on the disease. This isn’t true for all the infections, but holds true for many.

So with the increase in education, why do young people account for half the STIs when they are only 25% of the population [2]? Emory had a required class that taught students about condom use, I assume that other colleges implement these same classes. The education is being drilled in everywhere we go, but apparently that is not enough.

I believed condoms and a little information would be enough. Apparently there are more components than that. Social and cultural factors seem to be the more prominent reason for contraceptive disuse rather than ignorance and unavailability [3].

Among young adults (15-24), use of contraceptives such as condoms are linked to lack of trust. The use of condoms is looked upon as an insult because it suggests infidelity within the relationship. In a monogamous relationship, condoms are thought to be unnecessary because the spread of diseases should be nonexistent. [4]

Another issue is the stigma associated with condoms. Carrying them around assumes sex. This may not be a big deal for guys, but the unfortunate double standard looks upon girls negatively for carrying them around. Reputation is a huge factor because people will believe you are carrying a disease, which means they assume you have a long sexual history.

It seems like culture has an impact too. In countries where males are typically dominant in the community, the women don’t have a say on contraceptive use. In South Africa for instance, men decide the use of condoms. Men receive more pleasure without condom use so it seems like that dictates the use.

It was eye opening to see that STIs are passed on because of reasons other than ignorance or availability. I thought those were the only two reasons, but stigma is a huge factor that I never considered. One of the primary sources that I used discussed most of the data based off Africa, so I think factors like disempowerment or violence would not be as big a determining factor in the US. I think factors like trust or rejection would be bigger determinants in the US.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/figures/14.htm

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/adol.htm

[3] http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15545100/ns/health-sexual_health/t/why-young-people-dont-use-condoms/#.UI23jruwQcs

[4] http://www.phcfm.org/index.php/phcfm/article/view/79/101

1 thought on “Sexually transmitted infections

  1. Sumo: Good use of research from inside and outside the class. In your post you say “so I think factors like disempowerment or violence would not be as big a determining factor in the US. I think factors like trust or rejection would be bigger determinants in the US” when discussing the differences between the impact of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and in Africa (I think you are talking specifically about HIV/AIDS though you start the post talking more specifically about STIs in general. I would like to push back a little bit on your statement. I *don’t* disagree that violence and power inequalities are huge factors in work on HIV/AIDS in Africa, but I would argue they are huge factors here in the U.S. Is it possible that these factors are more covert or insidious in the U.S.? Perhaps the violence is less obvious (not mass rapings like you talk about in your most recent blog post) but sexual abuse on college campus or in committed relationships or maybe even during “hook ups.”?

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