April STD Awareness Month: Testing Postive
April is STD Awareness Month and we would like to help bring attention to the importance of regular testing and knowing sexual education. According to the CDC there has been an increase in STD cases that include a 4.7% increase in Chlamydia, 18.5% in gonorrhea, and 17.6% of syphilis since 2005. (https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats16/Infographic-STD-2016-Data-National-7.pdf) According to the American Sexual Health Association young people account for half of new STI cases, and only 12% were tested for STIs in the last year.
With that said we would like to share this submission of the experience of testing positive for an STD. We want to set a tone of normalcy to knowing the status of your sexual health. Morir Soñando is here to serve you accounts that can help you lead a better physical and emotional life despite of societal stigmas.
The first time I had sex I was 17. I was in a committed relationship and felt ready to take the step. I believed that I was grown enough and responsible enough to have sex and deal with any consequences that came from it. I also was so in love and sure that he was the one. I did not hesitate to go through with my decision. I remember that summer afternoon as he came and the impact that had on my soul and my body.
I am now 31 and have been sexually active for over 14 years. Since then I have had a number of sexual partners. I am going to say, give or take, about 15 different men. When I started having sex I was careless and naïve. Despite my assurance and confidence, I was inexperience for sure, to say the least. For me that entail lots, and lots of unprotected sex, and even a few unwanted pregnancies. In hindsight, I did not know myself or my body well enough to take care of it. I was simply uneducated and didn't even think of any thing going wrong.
About 5 years ago I went to a free clinic for a check up because I needed a prescription of Metronidazole. Metrondidazole is an antibiotic that destroys some of the bacteria that cause symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis can be caught by having unprotected sexual intercourse or frequent douching. In some cases, women have no symptoms. In other cases, there may be abnormal vaginal discharge, itching, or odor. Bacterial Vaginosis was extremely common for me, because I was super sensitive down under. I would often get irritations from latex condoms. The slightest thing would set my vagina off it's PH. Even if I was fingered I would get BV.
Instead of just the usual BV treatment this visit was different. This time I received a call a few days later after my appointment. The clinic called me to inform me that I tested positive for HPV. Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection affecting both males and females and is the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer. It came up in my pap smear. I first thought was who the hell gave me this!!! I was trying to mentally remember all my partners and who I had unprotected sex with. I was trying to see who I was with since my last pap smear, which came out normal. I was sure that I would be able to pinpoint who it was. I was wrong my doctor informed me that there was no way to determine who came it to me.
I was furious and quite disappointed with my lack of self care. I wanted to shut my legs forever. I did not even want to be intimate with anyone including my boyfriend at the time. After this horrible wake up call I promised to educate myself more about sex. I also told myself that I would not engage in any more one night stands and every partner that wanted get down with me unprotected would have to get tested. I was done being stupid with my health. Luckily I was able to take care of HPV but before something far worse can happen I wanted to take a control of my sexual health habits.
- You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
- About 80% of sexually active people will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime.
- CDC data for 2013–2014 show that about 42% of men and 40% of women aged 18-59 had genital HPV at that time.
- HPV is responsible for approximately 31,500 cases of cancer each year, including nearly all cases of cervical and anal cancer, about 75% of vaginal cancer, 70% of oropharyngeal cancer, and 69% of vulvar cancer.
- HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.
Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. (See “Who should get vaccinated?” below) CDC recommends 11 to 12 year olds get two doses of HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV. For more information on the recommendations, please see: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/hpv/public/index.html
Get screened for cervical cancer. Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.