Jul 15, 2011 |
Adolescent health |Sexual Health |LGBTQ |
Recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the striking health disparities faced by LGBTQ youth. The data from Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, conducted during 2001â€“2009 in seven states and six large urban school districts, shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are at greater risk than their heterosexual peers for a host of unhealthy behaviors.
Jun 24, 2011 |
STDs/STIs |Sexual Health |
A recent piece in theÂ Huffington Post
profiled a young man named Greg Hartman. While Hartman was working his way through college in Manitowoc, WI, he learned that a close friend had been infected with hepatitis C. Hartman thought about getting tested as himself, but with his restaurant job only pulling in about $150 a week, he couldnâ€™t afford the $300 for testing. Instead, he went to the University of Wisconsinâ€™s campus health center and applied for BadgerCare, Wisconsinâ€™s Medicaid-funded family planning program, which reimburses low-income individuals for preventative reproductive health needs, such as STI testing and birth control. Hartman was then able to get tested for both hepatitis C and HIV, and tested positive for the former. Without affordable medical coverage like BadgerCare, Hartman notes, he wouldnâ€™t have bothered to get tested.
May 14, 2011 |
Sexual Health |
I recently read a conversation on Facebook between two bright college women. The conversation began with a statement about the supposed hypocrisy of Planned Parenthood. The organization is like a â€śdrug dealer,â€ť the first woman claimed, selling sex by telling people that they canâ€™t live without it, and then giving out â€śprotectionâ€ť with contraception. â€śIf sex is so necessary,â€ť she asks, â€śthen why do we need protection?â€ť
Apr 14, 2011 |
General |Sexual Health |
Sexual health is important no matter how old you are. Being sexually active has been proven to improve quality of life. Thereâ€™s no reason to guess why people of all ages want to be sexually active. Starting in 1996 scientists started to research men 75-95 years old and their sexual activities.
Apr 5, 2011 |
General |STDs/STIs |Sexual Health |Reproductive health |
Some time ago I wrote a short letter that cheekily called on more people to â€śpee in a cupâ€ť (primarily to test for chlamydia). I pointed out that â€“ along with lack of health insurance â€“ social barriers like stigma and lack of awareness keep many individuals from seeking the sexual healthcare they need.
Iâ€™ve been asked a number of times just what I meant by â€śsocial barriersâ€ť to healthcare, and how in the world does stigma really keep someone from entering a clinic?
To be sure, there are plenty of reasons we might put off seeking any sort of clinic visit; images of cold instruments and sharp needles are hardly inviting. Think of how often we avoid going to the dentist or getting a flu shotâ€¦
With care related to sexual health, you have all that plus the fact youâ€™re dealing with issues â€śdown there.â€ť It can be difficult to even talk about such things, and the worry that we might get unwanted news or perhaps even be judged as â€śdirtyâ€ť can no doubt keep us out of the clinic. Itâ€™s not just patients who get caught up in this, either; healthcare providers are not immune from being uncomfortable when it comes to S-E-X. Also, we (and our providers) may simply think STIs happen only to other people, and we arenâ€™t at risk.
That mix of detriments at least partly explains why screening rates for infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV remain less than optimal.Â We can do better.
The impact of STIs is no small matter. There are an estimated 19 million new cases each year, most of which donâ€™t involve tell-tale signs. Testing is crucial: For example, HIV treatment regimens work better when started early, and untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women (and sometimes does a number on males, too).
But how do we â€śnormalizeâ€ť sexual health and related care?
- A start is to support and encourage providers to follow guidelines that bring STI testing and prevention into routine care. This involves annual chlamydia testing for all sexually active females under age 26 and giving HPV and hepatitis B vaccines to all adolescents and young adults. Making this all â€śroutineâ€ť also changes the mindset about sexual healthcare.
- Patients also have responsibilities to know what they need and to insist on it. Your clinician has never brought up STI and HIV testing? You do it. Are you (or your child) in the age group for which HPV vaccines are approved? Ask for them.
- Parents who might understandably cringe at the thought of their teens becoming sexually active should be gently reminded that, yes, your kids have hormones and the correct body parts to do the deedâ€¦and they will. Talk to them about how to resist pressure to have sex before theyâ€™re ready, but also teach them how to protect themselves.
I want to hear your thoughts, too. What do you think we can do to get past the awkwardness that often tags along with any discussion of sex and reproductive health? How do we talk to parents, teens, health professionals, and patients? What would YOU like to learn about?Â Contact us!
ASHA President and CEO