Post submitted by Noël Gordon, former HRC Senior Program Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equity.
Did you know April is National Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month? Probably not, and that’s a problem because STDs are on the rise in a big way.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation’s top public health agency, rates of syphilis are the highest they’ve been in 20 years, with the highest rates occurring among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Nearly 24,000 cases of primary and secondary syphilis were reported in 2015, up nearly 20 percent from the year before. Nearly 400,000 of cases of gonorrhea and 1.5 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2015 as well.
While many STDs are curable and all are treatable, they can still cause serious problems if left ignored. Additionally, the fear of acquiring STDs, including HIV, keeps many LGBTQ people and allies from enjoying an otherwise active and healthy sex life.
Yes, STD rates are on the rise, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our community has come together to address similar trends in the past, and we can do it again. That’s why HRC is proud to mark National STD Awareness Month with a month-long social and digital media campaign to educate LGBTQ people and allies about the steps we can take to take care of ourselves, our partners, and our community. Joining us in this effort are Building Healthy Online Communities, Hornet App, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, the National Coalition of STD Directors, and Project Inform.
Follow HRC's blog throughout the month of April to learn how to do it (i.e., prevent the spread of STDs), however how you choose to do it (e.g., with condoms, PrEP, abstinence). Whether it's learning about STDs, talking about STDs, or getting tested and treated for STDs, take pride in doing your part to keep our community healthy. Be sure to tell us what you think using the hashtags #STDMonth17 and #TakePride.
This post is not a substitute for sound medical advice — and the examples throughout it don’t cover every situation! We encourage you to seek out additional resources from other community advocates and, most importantly, talk to a knowledgeable healthcare provider before making any medical decisions.