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Protecting Yourself From STDs

It Won't Happen to Me: Why Aren't We Afraid of STDs Anymore?

When it comes to sex, staying protected is an important thing to keep in mind. YourTango shares why people are being a little more free when it comes to being intimate.

STIs are no longer a badge of shame but why aren't we protecting ourselves from getting them?

As a kid of the 80's, I grew up with a very intense fear of AIDS. Before I was old enough to truly understand what sex even was, it had been driven into my brain that without protection, another term that I had yet to really grasp, sex would inevitably lead to death. It was as simple as that in my head.

I think for my generation the impact that the AIDS scare had on all of us at such a young age, was the reason for safe sex becoming all but tattooed on our brains. We were forced to take sex education every year throughout high school, and each year the photos of symptoms for STDs in the textbooks got more and more graphic. It was hard to rationalize how anyone could NOT want to use a condom to protect themselves from those horrifying photos of herpes laden vaginas becoming a reality. However, if you've yet to experience a proper orgasm, you can't fathom the "heat of the moment" mentality. By the time I was in my mid-20's, I was singing a different tune when it came to safe sex. I was guilty of skipping the condom step of it all, and I was not alone.

New research shows that people, especially those between 18 and 30, just don't seem to be as concerned about contracting STIs (Note: In medical terms, infections are only called "diseases" when they cause symptoms. Having a sexually-transmitted infection, STI, doesn't always mean you feel sick or have signs of a disease.) as they used to be. Not only did the study find that 20 percent of people will go to bed with someone who has an STI, but 39 percent of those people actively choose to NOT use protection when doing so. That's like literally walking into a bear's den, and saying, "It's cool. I got this."

As we learned last week, condom use has stalled, with only 1 in 3 of singles using them during sex. Although shooting for a 100 percent usage rate is probably something you'd only find in a fantasy world, the fact is with only a third of people using condoms, we've seen a drastic jump in STI cases; a jump that will continue to rise as long as condom use remains secondary to passion.

The thing is, having sex with someone who has an STI, if you use protection, doesn't have to be a bad or scary thing. Just because someone has an infection it doesn't mean that they should be locked away on an island and disregarded as a potential mate or lover. We talked to two gentlemen who have dated and/or been in relationships with people who are HIV+ but have, and are, handling it responsibly.

For more on this story, head to YourTango: It Won't Happen to Me: Why Aren't We Afraid of STDs Anymore?

—Amanda Chatel

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