Spring at last, we're all eagerly anticipating possible lockdown relaxations, and most are probably tingling especially at the prospect of more contact - physical contact! Some are excited about a return to normalcy, others are calling for a "new normal".
When it comes to sexually transmitted infections, or short STIs, reality and perception of what is "normal" are far apart. It's time to do some spring cleaning: How about rethinking our attitudes toward STI together?
Let's face it, almost all of us will be confronted with an STI in the course of our sexually active lives. Yes, the risk increases with the number of sex partners. But isn't that like skiing? No one expects not to break a leg there. So why pass judgment on STIs?
It's time to celebrate an active and diverse sex life without shame, to see the risks involved as normal and treatable side effects.
Even a self-inflicted accident is less embarrassing than an STI, and hardly anyone has ever had to justify a stomach flu. Undoubtedly, sex is dirty: we exchange bodily fluids, rub against each other, use sex toys. There are simply a lot of pathogens literally involved. But so do door handles and pools and saunas. Where there are people, there are also bacteria and viruses.
There are a number of myths surrounding the spread of STIs, and we often prefer to talk ourselves out of an unlikely infection in the train station bathroom instead of admitting our sexuality. After all, STIs are still mostly transmitted during sexual acts, hence their apt name.
How would it be if we could simply discuss openly - at least with doctors and people we feel close to- how and with what we have been infected?
💡 Syphilis has been on the rise again in Germany since 2010
💡 HIV cannot be transmitted under treatment, and prevention medications are as safe as condoms
💡 Chlamydia is the most common STI in Germany and can lead to infertility
Let's put aside worn-out jokes and focus on the facts to better understand risk.
STIs can affect anyone, no matter how good he/she looks, talks or smells. Trust alone does not protect against infection and knowledge about STIs is often poor. Many infections are asymptomatic, so only testing can provide certainty. If we all get tested regularly, we could be much more relaxed about the topic of STIs and enjoy sex even more. So, let's embrace this new normal: Regular testing for STIs and HIV, as well as talking about sexually transmitted infections, should just be a given.