As a culture, we don't like to talk about sexually transmitted disease outside of sex education class. They're kept quiet, on the down low. It should be “between you and your doctor.” This kind of stigma-causing attitude keeps people from getting tested for STDs and seeking treatment if they are STD positive. Examples of these stigmatized STDs include syphilis, HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia and a plethora of others.
In Nevada, thousands of people are living with STDs, and many don't even know they have them. It's clear this needs to be changed. Because of the stigma, people don't get tested and don't seek treatment. This can spread the disease farther. If they do seek treatment, they may be humiliated about their illness and possibly shunned by others.
So what can we do to fight the stigma in Reno?First, educate. By educating the general public about STDs, we reduce the stigma surrounding them. We show people how to prevent infection and how to seek care.
Second, take steps to end poverty in our city. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Poverty can limit access to health care, HIV testing, and medications that can lower levels of HIV in the blood and help prevent transmission risk. In addition, those who cannot afford the basics in life may end up in circumstances that increase their HIV risk.”
Third, help STD-positive people obtain affordable, non-judgmental treatment. By making treatment more welcoming, we encourage people to be open, and to seek the care that they need.
Fourth, get tested. Know your STD status and encourage others to do so, too.
These are some of the most basic ways to end the stigma surrounding STDs. Maybe we can bring and end to this issue in Reno, and make our city a better place for all.