Let's Have Some Real Talk About STIs

Let's Have Some Real Talk About STIs

Posted By Javay- The Millennial Sexpert
Let's Have Some Real Talk About STIs

April is STI Awareness Month, which is extremely important because there is still so much misinformation out in the world about STIs. If we are going to get to a place where STIs aren’t stigmatized and shrouded in shame, then we all need to understand STIs better. So, let’s have a real chat about STIs–no scare tactics, no sugar coating, just the honest truth, shall we?

They’re a Part of Reality

Before we actually dive into the STIs themselves, we should clear up one point. The possibility of contracting an STI is going to be present anytime you engage in sexual activity with someone else. This means that STIs are just as common as getting a cold or some other sickness while being in close proximity to someone who is also sick. STIs are a byproduct; they aren’t evil or make someone less attractive or valuable, they just are. So, this means that we should understand all come to a place of recognizing them as a part of engaging in sex.

Categories of STIs

Did you know that there are two categories of STIs? Yep, you have curable STIs, one’s that when you take medication for them, they will be cleared out of your system. The other category is manageable/treatable, meaning that they will remain in the body once contracted, but there are medications that can help manage or treat the symptoms. Curable STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Manageable/treatable STIs are Hepatitis B, Herpes (HSV), HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and HPV (human papillomavirus).

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Learn Some More About the Different STIs

Chlamydia is a very common STI that is contracted from a virus. It is also one of the STIs that many people don’t show symptoms for. Gonorrhea has been known as “The Clap” and is also a bacterial infection. With gonorrhea, the symptoms include painful urination and abnormal discharge, though some people can experience no symptoms at all. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that progresses through stages. Stage one the person has sores appearing on the body, and in the second stage it moves to a body rash, the third stage is latent meaning that no symptoms are present. In the final stage of untreated syphilis, other organ systems in the body begin to be affected. HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus, is the most common STI and if contracted can lead to genital warts of different forms of cancer. There is a vaccine available for HPV that protects against teh strains that cause cancer.

Trichomoniaisis is an STI that is spread through a parasite, meaning that it lives in the body and eventually causes harm to the person if untreated. With Trichomoniasis people with a penis typically have no symptoms, while people with vulvas do have symptoms such as discharge with a foul odor. Hepatitis B is a virus that can lead to liver disease. Many people do not experience symptoms with Hepatitis B, but if they do they are generally fever, tiredness, and vomiting to name a few. Herpes is a virus that leads to sores in two areas of the body: around the mouth or on the genitals. Herpes is regularly known as an STI when it is connected to the genitals (HSV2), but cold sores around the mouth are also herpes (HSV1). HIV is a virus that attacks the cells in the body, weakening them and making an individual for susceptible to contracting illnesses. If HIV goes untreated it can lead to the development of AIDS

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STI Testing

The best way to have peace of mind around STIs and to make the most informed decisions around sexual activity you are going to want to prioritize STI testing. There are a few different ways you can go about STI testing. There are at-home kits that you can order and then send back. Dame and Nurx both offer an at-home testing kit for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. You can also do a Google search to see all the options available for at-home kits. You can also go to your primary care provider or other medical provider to get testing. If you are in college then your campus health center should also provide STI testing. 

Regardless of where you go to get tested it is important that you make sure you receive triple site testing. Triple site testing is when you have your throat, anus, and vagina or tip of the penis swabbed for STIs as well as giving a urine and blood sample. Triple site swabbing is the best way to fully check for STIs because they can appear in different parts of the body. Frequency of STI testing is going to vary person to person. The recommendation is that if you are having casual sex or in a polyamorous relationship to get tested every 3-6 months, if you are in a long-term-monogamous relationship the recommendation is at least once a year.

Regardless of your relationship status, if you are engaging in sexual activities with other individuals making sure you are educated on STIs and their symptoms and regularly getting STI tested is important. If we all work to normalize STIs and STI testing, we can work together to minimize the spread of STIs.

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