Lifestyles Center Blog


As college students, we know by now that STD testing is a vital part of keeping your sex life healthy and safe. So why does our age group account for roughly half of the new STD cases diagnosed each year? Research into this issue has pointed to an STD-related stigma that discourages people from getting tested, or even talking about sexually transmitted diseases in general.

A perceived stigma is an individual’s belief that they are acting incorrectly based on society’s attitude toward a particular topic. A lot of times, this reflects discriminatory attitudes towards said topic. In college students, there’s a perceived stigma regarding STD testing. The STD Project calls it this generation’s “scarlet letter.” A lot of sexual activities that were considered more experimental are becoming increasingly popular nowadays; that’s 100% okay. Generally, college kids are non-judgmental and even welcoming of experimentation. But, once someone contracts an STD, they “will be scarlet-lettered forever.”

Because of that stigma, college students are less likely to get tested regularly. This is extremely dangerous for anyone involved. One in two individuals will contract an STD by the age of 25. That is only in reported cases. =X Without getting tested, the risk of unknowingly contracting and spreading anything increases drastically.

So what can you do to help? First, don’t be afraid to get yourself tested. It’s really important. The earlier you catch something, the better. Many STDS are curable if caught early enough. Second, don’t be afraid to talk about it! Encourage your friends to get tested and offer support to anyone who does. Don’t make them feel like they’re wrong or dirty for getting checked! The best way to defeat a stigma is to talk about it- so start spreading the word!

Allison Flanagan, Peer Educator

Based off of the following article:

STD Stigma – The New Scarlet Letter


Photo cred: STDS