People who contract STDs may feel incredibly isolated and alone at first. They have an infection or disease which automatically makes them a bigger risk to date, not to mention for intimacy.
For these people, it can be immensely helpful and heartening to hear stories from others who went through the same anxieties, stresses, isolation, and symptoms. These can be wonderful resources to help people with STDs find ways to deal with their health.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has a website called The Naked Truth, which is devoted to providing information, help, and support for people, especially young people, who may be dealing with a sexually transmitted disease, or people who think they may have one.
The website features testimonials from real people who have dealt with all kinds of situations – from cheating boyfriends to irresponsible one-night stands, to long chains of people who passed on an STD, to people who contracted an STD the first time they ever had sex.
These stories help illustrate the wide variety of situations where STDs were not expected or even considered – a complete shock to those who contracted them.
STD Testing Could Have Prevented It: Amber’s Story
According to The Naked Truth, Amber was a seventeen-year-old teenager when she caught syphilis. She had gotten it when she had sex for the first time with her boyfriend, a guy she had known and trusted for years.
The two of them had actually talked about safe sex beforehand, including preventing pregnancy. However, they neglected to talk about STDs and safe sex in that particular context. Despite this omission, they planned on being together for a long time, and both felt ready.
Amber knew that her boyfriend had had sex before, but she didn’t notice anything unusual, so she wasn’t worried. However, days later, she discovered sores on her body that didn’t go away. She was reluctant to tell her boyfriend because she was worried about blame — if he would somehow blame her. She also wondered if he knew he had an STD and kept it from her on purpose, or if he didn’t have one at all and would break up with her because of the incident.
As it turns out, Amber’s boyfriend had gotten sores after being with his last girlfriend, as well as other symptoms, like fevers and strange rashes. However, they had gone away, so he had stopped worrying about them. He said he didn’t think he had gotten it from his last girlfriend, either, because she had told him that she had only ever been with guys who promised that they had been tested.
Both Amber and her boyfriend ended up getting tested, and both were positive for syphilis, which is easily treatable. The boyfriend told his ex-girlfriend about the positive results; she got tested and ended up positive for syphilis, too.
The Problem and the Takeaway
If Amber’s story sounds familiar, that’s because, statistically, she, her boyfriend, and the ex-girlfriend are not alone. According to CNN, young people age 15 to 24 are those who are most at risk for contracting an STD. In 2015 alone, the most reported infections for chlamydia and gonorrhea were among this age group. For chlamydia, they accounted for two-thirds of all reported cases. For gonorrhea, they accounted for approximately half of all reported cases.
It’s additionally really easy to see where in Amber’s story she and her boyfriend went wrong. They had a responsible discussion about safe sex before they ever got intimate, but they neglected to discuss sexually transmitted diseases and the possible risk, let alone if either of them ever had STD testing.
What’s even more alarming about the story is the total cluelessness displayed by Amber’s boyfriend and the ex-girlfriend. Amber’s boyfriend had very strange symptoms, but he never got them checked out. On top of this, he believed his ex-girlfriend when she said she had only been with people who promised they had been tested.
What naïve teens probably don’t understand is that hormonal teenage boys will promise pretty much anything if sex is involved – even if they’re empty promises.
This is a lot of promising and a lot of believing with no action involved – an incredibly dangerous combination. Naturally, it led to a chain of syphilis passed from a random teenager to the ex-girlfriend, to Amber’s boyfriend, and, finally, to Amber.
What is the takeaway? All of this could have been avoided with proper STD testing.
Had Amber and her boyfriend been aware of the risks of STDs, they probably would have been equally careful about them as they were with the risk of pregnancy. Syphilis, in particular, is totally treatable and curable. In fact, had any of the teens been aware, the chain of transmission could have stopped much earlier.
In Amber’s case, even though she was responsible about sex in many ways, she was still not immune to an STD. It was her first time, and she still was not immune to an STD. She was young, still a teenager, still in high school, but she still was not immune to an STD.
Why STD Testing is So Important
For teens and adults in Plano, TX, getting tested for STDs could mean the difference between serious health problems down the line or getting cured. Especially for syphilis cases, when left untreated, the infection can lead to crippling deformities and mental problems (which doctors say Amber’s boyfriend narrowly avoided, according to The Naked Truth). For pregnant women, syphilis can damage their reproductive systems and cause their babies to be born with deformities.
Luckily, because the three teens in the story above were treated, each of them was cured and able to move on with their lives. The key to knowing one needs treatment, however, is getting tested in Frisco, TX, as well as Plano, TX.