STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. Those who contract an STD feel ashamed and tend to shy away from social encounters. They feel like everyone knows that they have an STD and look at them as though they are low class and trashy, as if they are a streetwalker. While that used to be the perception when it came to STDs, it was and still is untrue.
STDs cross all social and economic classes.
Because the infected person feels shame and shys away from social encounters they can become depressed. This keeps the cycle going, now the shame of an STD is coupled with the shame of a mental illness, depression.
How Do We Change The Stigma Of Stds
In order to change the social stigma of STDs is to educate the public. First and foremost we must make the public aware that STDs usually have no symptoms. There is no way to know if a person has an STD without testing which is why it is so easy to spread STDs. It is also the reason that they spread so quickly.
What Has Changed Over The Years And What Has Not
100 years ago, it was mainly prostitutes who caught STDs. It was rare that marriage ended in divorce. Also women were virgins when they married, unless rape or incest was involved. This is where the stigma of STDs came from why prostitutes were looked down upon, both socially and economically.
Today the way we view the world has changed. Many marriages end in divorce today, thus we have more than one partner throughout our lives. Women are no longer expected to be homemakers and wives only. This has many of us putting marriage off until our mid-twenties or even early thirties. While we are getting married later than many women did 100 years ago, we no longer wait for marriage before becoming sexually active. Becoming sexually active at a young age puts us at a higher risk of contracting a venereal disease or STD. Unfortunately because we are younger we are not mentally or socially equipped to handle the stigma that comes with an STD.
Medications available for treatment have become more reliable and more readily available than they were 100 years ago. The testing procedures also have become more reliable. Thus STDs that were not curable 100 years ago now are. Now we keep track of cases of STD and those infected are made to disclosure their partner(s) name(s) in order that they may be tested and treated as well to stop further spreading of the STD. Still some STDs do not have a cure, but the majority of them that were deadly or lifelong inflictions can now be cured.
Education Begins At Home
As our children are becoming sexually active at an earlier age and we have the means to educate them on STDs that education has to start at home. If we talk frankly to them about STDs, how they can be infected, and what that will do to them, that it is not shameful we can better prepare them to handle the stigma and may even erase the stigma associated with STDs.