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Welcome back Friend,

We’ve been so looking forward to talking about this month’s theme for a while now, and if you’ve been following along on our Instagram (@mysexbio) or our Carnal Theory podcast, then you probably know that throughout October we’ve been BREAKING DOWN THE STI STIGMA.

We understand that, while there are many empowering aspects of sex, there are also many risks that are involved in having sex. But we believe that, while no one wants to test positive for an STI, they are still given an overly bad reputation that has led to a myriad of misinformation, fear and unfair stereotypes. Additionally, dating or hookups during a global pandemic add a whole new layer of fear, risk and need for accurate and respectful communication.

So, let’s take a moment to clear the air and get our facts straight when it comes to STIs and do a little work to unravel the stigmas that often surround them.
 

STIs vs STDs


There’s been a shift recently towards more accurate language. As Angela Jones, M.D. says: “You can have an infection, such as chlamydia, without symptoms...Disease simply means that symptoms of said ailment are present and we only describe things as diseases when symptoms are present.” (Women’s Health, 2018).
 
So, before symptoms set in, we’re talking about a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Once symptoms are present, it has transitioned to a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It’s that simple!
 

The prevalence of STIs & STDs


Some key statistics from the World Health Organization:

  • There are over 1 million new STI cases each day around the world.
  • Each year, there are an estimated 376 million new infections with 1 of 4 STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
  • More than 290 million women have a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
  • More than 500 million people are estimated to have genital infection with herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Why is there still such a stigma?


Despite the incredibly high rates of STIs and STDs, the negative stigmas surrounding them are still just as prevalent as ever before. Why? Well often it stems from two things: the media and education.

“Herpes is often the butt of many jokes – remember The Hangover and Pitch Perfect? There are so many examples of movies and other forms of media that depend on herpes for a cheap laugh. Not everyone may notice them but those jokes never get past us HSV+ people...and even for me, they can still sting!

“But recently I've seen shows like The Bold Type and Adam Ruins Everything normalizing herpes in a really cool and casual way. Not to mention the comedian, Drew Michael, who is redefining herpes jokes!”

                                                               – Rae Kennedy, My Sex Bio Partner


Even today, the media is stigmatizing STIs and putting them at the butt end of jokes. Not only that, but we have many sex education classrooms using STIs as a fear-mongering device to promote abstinence.

Creating such an air of fear and embarrassment around STIs and STDs is only going to further the miseducation and confusion around how to protect yourself, reduce the spread, communicate with your partner and take action when you do contract an infection.
 

Talking about your STI:


Our friends at the STI Project have compiled a list of important things to keep in mind when talking to your partner(s), friends or family about your STI/STD diagnosis:
  • Have the conversation face-to-face.
  • Be honest and offer more resources for them to do some of their own research.
  • Give your partner the time and space they need.
  • In situations where you are not comfortable talking to your partner about this, there are other methods of alerting them.
Read more at the stiproject.com or Listen to our Carnal Theory episode with Jenelle Marie Pierce.
 

Practice safe sex, and get tested regularly


Just because we are trying to break down the STI stigma, doesn’t mean that you should work hard to avoid contracting one. The safest way to avoid contracting an STI is to use a barrier during any kind of sexual experience. That means during oral and digital/manual sex as well!

Additionally, keeping up with your vaccinations can support your sexual wellness. For example, the HPV vaccine, which is also a form of cancer-prevention.

Not only that, but get tested regularly. Because STIs are asymptomatic, it’s often impossible to tell if you have one unless you get tested. You don’t always have to get tested at a clinic either – these days you can get at-home test kits mailed right to your front door! 

You can use our affiliate link to order your own home STI testing kit if you’re interested in trying it out. Just click here to be taken to the myLAB Box STI test kit listing and choose the right one for you.
 

Learn more . . .


We produce a LOT of content at My Sex Bio, and if you want to explore all that we create to dive deeper into this topic, here are a few places to do so:
  • My Sex Bio on Instagram where you can find more in-depth posts on our monthly themes
  • Carnal Theory Podcast where we interview expert partners on monthly themes and beyond
  • Our YouTube Channel where you can find video versions of all our Carnal Theory episodes
  • The My Sex Bio Studio where you can take classes to help you reflect on your sexual biography or just do some joyful movement!
  • Our Tik Tok account where we post fun, educational videos and highlights from Carnal Theory
  • Our Twitter account where you can keep up-to-date on all our content in one place
  • My Sex Bio on Spotify where you can experience our monthly themes through music

Writing prompt:
 

What was my sex education like in regards to STI/STDs? How did it make me feel about the possibility of being tested positive for an STI? Did it prepare me for how to have a conversation with my friends, family and partner(s) about my positive results? Did it teach me the many ways in which I could get tested and the many ways that I could practice safe sex?

This voluntary monthly prompt invites you to explore your sexual biography.
Tips on exploring this: Set aside 20 minutes with your phone on silent and relax yourself in a comfortable space with a pen and paper. Go slow. Start with what comes to mind from your first read of the prompt. Continue writing your stream of consciousness.

Mantra of the month


"If you really think small, your world will be small. If you think big, your world will be big.” 

                                                                                                       –Paulo Coelho

Researching our sexual biographies:


Do you feel that you get STI/STD tested as often as you should?

Yes, I get tested regularly                                                                                    No, I believe I should get tested more frequently
 
Each month we ask a question in support of our leading mission at My Sex Bio. As we grow we plan to help fund and supply research for sex education. The results of these questions may be shared on social media as well as the following month’s newsletter. These results will also help curate relevant content for our readers, like you, moving forward. Responses are voluntary and anonymous.

Thank you for your support, Patreon Community:

 
  • Janet
  • Leslie
  • Victoria
  • Audrey 
  • Ashley
  • Joel
  • M3ssalina

Want to join our Patreon Community and support a sexually-empowered future? Click here

—The My Sex Bio Team
 
@mysexbio
@mysexbio
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