Why you should avoid STI shaming

People always make assumptions when it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When you hear that someone does have a STI infection, it’s easy to judge them and their lifestyle. But STI are nothing that we should shame or judge people for. Anyone can get a sexually transmitted infection so it’s not fair to jump to conclusions about anyone who has one. Here’s why you should avoid STI shaming and tips for how to be more considerate. 

You don’t know how the person contracted it

It’s true that the more partners you have and the less protection you use during sex, the more at risk you are of contracting a STI. However, it only takes one sexual encounter for someone to become infected. It could have been their first time having sex, it could have been contracted in a committed relationship where it was actually their partner who cheated, or it could have been something they contracted when they where young (like herpes). The truth is, a STI does not make someone ‘loose’ or promiscuous. There is no need to STI-shame or slut-shame them.

Foreplay also puts someone at risk of a STI

Like I mentioned above Choma, you might assume someone who has a STI is just someone who sleeps around. However, you can also get a STI from non-penetrative sex, like oral sex. STIs like herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia are often contracted during oral sex.

The effects of STI-shaming 

If we regularly judge people with STIs, we discourage people from getting tested for it (because they would be afraid of being shamed or humiliated). It also discourages people who have the symptoms from getting treatment and from disclosing the fact that they have a STI to their partner. All of these things only further risks the person spreading the STI rather than treating it. If we make STIs something that is acceptable to talk about and something that no one should be judged for, we create an environment where everyone is free to get tested and treated. 

The importance of testing 

If you or your partner think that you might be infected with a STI, it is important to go to your nearest clinic or health care provider and request to be tested because some STIs are not easy to detect and the impact of an untreated sti can result in long-term health complications. It’s important that you and your partner not only get tested, but also educate yourselves as much as possible about STIs. 

For more information about STIs, read:

My partner has an STI, now what?

The importance of STI testing

What’s your STI IQ?

The dangers of STI stigma 

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).