With STIs on the Rise, Be the Queen of Your Sexual Health
No matter the season, getting boo’d up never seems to go out of style. So before things get steamy, let’s get real about being the Queen of your sexual health.
The US has seen jaw-dropping increases in STIs over the past several years. From 2014 to 2018, a recent CDC report found
- A 19% increase in chlamydia infections (oop!),
- A 63% increase in gonorrhea infections (tuh!); and
- A 71% increase in syphilis infections (whew chile!).
Despite these numbers, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans don’t know how common STIs have become, and only 13% know that over half the people in the US will have an STI (other than HIV) at some point in their lives. If these numbers aren’t sending you straight to the OBGYN already, get this tea: while STI awareness is higher among Black people, these increases will disproportionately affect the Black community and, in particular, our sistas.
Now, all of this isn’t meant to scare you! It’s meant to provide you with the information you need to own your sexual health and make decisions that allow you to enjoy sex without fear.
So first, let’s talk about why the increases are happening in the first place. Bottom line, people don’t think they’re going to get an STI even though more than half of Americans say they know someone who’s had an STI or have had one themselves. And, when you think it just won’t happen to you, you’re more willing to take risks that you otherwise wouldn’t. Further, significant budget cuts at both the state and federal level in recent years have reduced funding to facilities that provide testing and treatment, particularly to communities of color.
Also, Black women face unique social pressures that make protecting our sexual health seem difficult. For Black straight women, this includes the fact that the pool of available Black men is smaller when compared to other racial and ethnic groups. This is due to a variety of factors, which may make us feel like we’re competing for a partner and don’t have the space to aggressively advocate for our sexual health. But we do, and we can. And as always, Upspoken has the tea ☕️ on how to get it done.
Ok Sis, Let’s 👏🏾 get 👏🏾 into 👏🏾 it:
Knowledge is power. Knowing your body lets you better communicate what you like during sex, and knowing how sex can affect your body and health allows you to better communicate boundaries with your boo, including the use of protection before you get it on.
Conversation, especially one that protects your health, and your partner’s, is sexy and it’s something you should embrace rather than run from. We know these conversations can be difficult, but they can also be a chance for you to talk about ways to make it even steamier in the bedroom, all while discussing how you and your partner can have each other’s backs when it comes to sexual health. For more tips on navigating those conversations like a boss visit RoyalTea, Upspoken’s Hot Tips for Sexual Empowerment.
Check up on it! We know it can be scary to get tested, but STIs, including HIV, are treatable and manageable with proper care. And by getting tested—and treatment, if needed—you can contribute to reducing STIs. So next time you’re visiting your doctor, don’t be afraid to bring up your sexual activity and ask to be tested. Remember, your doctor is there to serve you, and there is no stigma or shame in you getting your freak on, or caring about your sexual health. Make them work for that paper, sis! And if you need a little help knowing what to say, we got you!