In light of recent numbers reported by the Rhode Island Department of Health, we unfortunately must dedicate this space of copy to something that most people really would rather not talk about at all.
The rate of easily preventable sexually transmitted diseases has jumped significantly to the highest rates in 10 years. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – the disease that plagued JFK, Napoleon and even finally did in Al Capone – have all increased in Rhode Island, and nationally more STDs have been reported than ever before.
The causes for these statistics are likely multifaceted. They are a symptom of a changing culture regarding sex – one where we are faced with a combination of more people having sex, more people having sex with multiple partners and, unfortunately, more people engaging in unprotected sex despite the availability of condoms and other birth control products which prevent STDs.
The increased rate of reporting may also be indicative that more doctors are testing for the diseases, meaning that more people are getting tested – which could be, in the long run, a good thing. Having more people report would obviously inflate the statistics, when in reality the rate of the diseases may not be as drastically different from previous years as the numbers on their face may seem.
No matter what the cause, there is never a wrong time to remind people that preventing STDs is incredibly simple. All it takes is a condom, a dash of common sense and the teensiest bit of personal responsibility.
The simple fact of the matter is that condoms work in preventing easily communicable and potentially life-altering diseases. Chlamydia may be simply cleared up with a bottle of antibiotics or a shot of penicillin, but if it is left untreated it can lead to infertility and possible ectopic pregnancies later in life. Untreated gonorrhea can lead to an increased likelihood of getting HIV, and syphilis can kill you if left untreated, as it often did before modern antibiotics were developed.
Being proactive about getting tested is the jelly to the peanut butter of simple prevention tactics. Everybody should get tested for HIV at least once in their life. Depending on your type of sexual choices, amount of partners and whether or not you’ve ever had unprotected sex, you should also get tested for a spectrum of STDs. You never know, until you actually know.
Far gone are the days where sex was a purely taboo act which must never be talked about. With Tinder and the thousands of dating website available to everybody, people are going to find other people interested in making love. Societally, the perception of sex is changing as well from a purely monogamous, marital activity to something less guarded, something more socially accepted.
This doesn’t mean that the possible negative consequences of engaging in risky sexual behaviors have changed at all. You can wind up with a child you didn’t expect, or a persistent and potentially dangerous STD if you’re not careful. Heed the Department of Health’s warnings and be thankful for your sexual health this holiday season.