From the open discussion of HIV on the TV show Pose to Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness (JVN) revealing he is HIV positive, new light has been brought to the conversation surrounding sexual health.
JVN is one of approximately 1.1 million people who are HIV positive in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Out of the 1.1 million who are currently living with HIV, about 14% go undiagnosed. It is not uncommon for STDs and STIs to go undetected. For example, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes and trichomoniasis are commonly asymptomatic.
Due to many common STDs and STIs lacking physical symptoms, it is important to become educated about them. This is an area that United States education has failed, with many states teaching abstinence-only sexual education (Indiana included).
Because of schools and institutions stressing abstinence and not engaging in conversation regarding sexual health, we tend to disengage in conversation regarding STDs and STIs because we are uncomfortable. This leads to harmful stereotypes surrounding the idea of what STDs and STIs are because we’re not educated.
Due to this lack of education, learn what you can do to protect yourself. The truth is, as we tried to write this article we realized how little we ourselves know about STDs, STIs and sexual health in general. While the internet holds a vast amount of information, you can also check out resources at the Women’s Center and DePauw Wellness center.
These resources provide support and testing for students, including tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Students won’t be charged at the time of their visit because the cost associated with many DePauw Health services are covered by fees students pay at the beginning of the year. Contraceptives and Plan B are also available.
The CDC recommends you should get tested annually, and we do too.