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The images are comically grotesque and send a clear missive: STDs are ghastly and shameful; they are not a normal part of human sexuality.
It's a message that not only sets people up for later emotional turmoil but also increases their risk for infection, says Stamoulis.
After all, half of sexually active people end up with an STD by age 25.For example, most people with genital herpes show no major symptoms, and as a result, they're probably less likely to visit or be screened by their doctors.And even though testing for chlamydia is easy and accurate, just 38 percent of sexually active young women were screened last year, despite the fact that their tender cervical cells are ultra-vulnerable to infections.Of course, medical facts don't always change public opinion, leaving STD patients anxious and without practical information.
One common fear is that they'll be denied health insurance coverage. (HIV remains a serious disease and is a topic worthy of its own feature story.) Another unwarranted fear is that an STD equals instant infertility.
D., a New York City mental health counselor who specializes in sexual health.