April is STD Awareness month, and to raise awareness about the importance of getting tested and talking to your partner about safe sex, Planned Parenthood made a set of sex-ed videos. The videos are produced in collaboration with GYT: Get Yourself Tested, a program that combines the powerful forces of the American College Health Association, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the National Coalition of STD Directors, MTV, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, along with some technical help from the Centers of Disease Control.
The goal is to make sure that everyone knows that STIs aren’t anything to be ashamed of.
In fact, the more people talk about STIs, the better chance the sexually active public has in eradicating them once and for all.
There’s a lot of stigma attached to sexually transmitted diseases and infections. For some reason, sex talk still embarrasses some people, and in sex-ed classes, many American school districts are still focused on “abstinence only” education, which do little except scare pubescent teens into thinking that common STDs like herpes, HPV, or even HIV will be the end of their sex life, or that they only happen to certain demographics.
That, of course, is just not true. According to the CDC, over half of the new 20 million new cases of STDs in the United States occur in young people. So it’s important to raise awareness and make sure that young people (and old people) and are talking to their partners.
Planned Parenthood’s videos go far beyond lecturing about condom usage (though insisting on using one is the best way to prevent transmission of sexually related diseases).
The videos are super useful.
There’s one about talking about ways to prevent STDs.
Or talking about getting tested.
You don’t have to wait until you’re in a relationship to get an STD test (although that’s always a good idea, too), but it is important to encourage your friends to get tested if they’re sexually active, get tested yourself, and make sure you know how to ask a partner about their testing habits. Don’t be shy. You’re about to get naked in front of someone, so everything is on the table. The more people talk about getting tested for STDs, the more people will feel comfortable *actually* getting tested. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
And one video about how to disclose your own STD.
Because of stigma surrounding STDs, sometimes it’s tough to just open up and not be shy about your sexual health. Having an STD is not a big deal — they’re all preventable and treatable. Even the “scary” ones like HIV. But it is a big deal if you’re not being honest with a partner and putting them, and their other partners, at risk of transmission. This video has some good advice about how to approach the topic.
Planned Parenthood’s video series should be mandatory viewing for anyone who’s sexually active or planning on it. There’s no shame in talking about STDs and communication is the first step to protecting yourself and your partners.