Causes & Risk Factors

STDs Are Socially Stigmatized

April 7, 2018

Many STDs are believed to be socially stigmatized. To put it differently, individuals are judged or condemned for being infected with STDs. Other types of disease might also take some level of social stigma. On the other hand, the STD stigma is often especially powerful.

Why is STD disease connected with such strongly negative answers? In part, it is because people tend to be so incredibly judgmental about gender.

When someone is diagnosed with an STD and allows folks know about it, there’s frequently an extremely negative response. They may find that people think of them as dirty or slutty. They may lose partners or experience intimate partner violence.

STD stigma is not always led. At times it’s more general, such as when people make jokes or play with tunes that equate herpes to become dirty. But undirected stigma can be very painful and have a negative side effect. Stigma is a problem.

The truth is, there is no reason. This sort of judgment isn’t just irrational. It is actually extremely counterproductive. Why?

  1. STDs are simply infections. They don’t have any inherent moral or immoral component. People are infected by them .
  2. Most STDs are asymptomatic. That means that the only way to know if you have one is to be analyzed frequently. The profound degree of societal stigma associated with a positive identification is a huge issue. It makes many men and women decide they’d rather not know their status. Hence people often spend years spreading diseases until they undergo any serious consequences. They think that should they do not understand, then they don’t have to lie about it or risk rejection.
  1. It only takes one sexual partner to end up with an STD. From time to time, it doesn’t take any. Having an STD says nothing about your sexual history except that you, likely, didn’t reliably practice safer sex.
  2. STDs are amazingly common. Some, like HPV, infect over half of the sexually active population. Many of the people shaming individuals with STD stigma probably have an STD themselves. This has the capacity to bring about self-hatred and depression after identification. For example, herpes stigma may be poor enough to leave individuals feeling dizzy after a new identification. 

    In my view, the only real cure for STD stigma is better sex education. People will need to understand how common these diseases are. They will need to learn how readily they are treated. Then, maybe, we could start working on creating screening more prevalent. After all, one of the worst sections of STD stigma is that doctors can suffer with it as well. Sometimes making it difficult to get tested, even if you don’t suffer from STD stigma yourself. 

    Note: Two STDs which are associated with especially substantial levels of social stigma are HIV and herpes.