Why Everyone Needs to Stop STI Shaming

STI shaming is a real thing and we’re sick of it. The term STI (sexually transmitted infection) is used to define infections that are transmitted from one infected person to another through various kinds of sexual contact. STIs describe infections that have not yet or will not turn into a disease and is a fairly new term.

According to the American Sexual Health Organization, more than half of all people will have an STI at some point in their lifetime. If so many people are infected then why is talking about STIs such a taboo subject? It’s because of the shame and embarrassment that comes along with the infection. In order to end this stigma attached to STIs, we have to change the way we view and talk about them and the people affected.

More often than not, STIs are treated like hot gossip — there’s whispering, snickering, even judging about who the latest “victim” is. The truth of the matter is, STIs are not funny. They are not a hot commodity of information, and they are not our business. One of the biggest problems surrounding STI’s is that it is correlated with sleeping around, being a “slut”, and having no self-respect — all false assumptions.

There are many reasons STI shaming has to stop, the most important being that if we continue to shame people who are infected, chances are they will not feel comfortable enough to speak about it. STIs are transmitted through sex but they’re also transmitted through a lack of communication, so let’s start talking.

Unlike people, STIs do not discriminate — anybody who is sexually active has a chance of catching something. It is so important that if you are having sex, you are taking precautions to ensure both yours and your partner’s safety. Talk to each other, get checked, use condoms, and most importantly — do not judge. Opening up the conversation about safe-sex and refusing to allow this stigma to continue is a step in the right direction.

The University Health Services on campus at Penn State is open Monday through Saturday and provides STI and HIV testing for students. If interested please visit https://uhsonline.psu.edu/confirm.aspx or call (814) 863-0774 to set up an appointment.