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STDs are a pervasive problem throughout humanity. Anyone can
contract these diseases through unprotected sex or sexual contact with people
who are already afflicted with these conditions. Disease knows no sex or
gender, and afflicts those both male or female. So, why then, is there such a stigma attached to women who have STDS? The stigma related to having an STD
often corresponds to the idea of promiscuous
women, and promiscuity has its own stigma altogether. Such societal views
of both of these stigmas creates a
cycle wherein one perpetuates the other. This fear and stigma of STDs plays an
important role in their transmission and treatment, or often lack of treatment,
as do the misinterpretations of promiscuous women. By noting the correlations
between sex positive education and STD transmission versus abstinence only
education, access to STD treatment
and treatment percentage, a picture is painted of the vicious cycle created.
The only way to begin to overcome the spread of STDs and AIDS is to dismantle the ways in which shame stops the
treatment of affected people, along with education of the sexually mature.

               To
understand how women handle STDs and
the stigma that surrounds them,
especially in regard to promiscuity,
one must first look at STDs as a
whole, and how they affect not only women, but men, and what that means for
women at large. When reference is made to the actual reported cases of STDs and their prevalence in the US, one
can look to the New York Times article written by Goodnough for support. In 2016,
the three most common STDs – chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – had grown for
the second consecutive year. Also, in 2015, there were more cases of sexually
transmitted diseases being recorded than ever before. The article goes on to
say that, “Young people, members of racial minorities and men who have sex with
other men are at most risk for getting an S.T.D.” (Goodnough, 2016, para. 2) This
article, unfortunately, seems to have a focus on the male population because
they are the highest risk group, but it is still relevant to women. Men having
sex with other men are at the highest risk, but some of those men are going to
be having sex with women in addition to those men. They may transmit any disease
or diseases that they knowingly or unknowingly have to a woman or multiple women.
There is a definite domino effect when it comes to the spread of these
diseases. For men, there is a negative stigma
that surrounds getting tested for these diseases, as there also is for women. Since
these women are not being made aware of the fact that they may have contracted
a STD, neither by their partner or
their doctor, there isn’t a chance for them to seek medical treatment. Untreated
STDs can lead to health problems,
including infertility. There has also been an increase exclusively for women in
issues related to childbirth. For example, syphilis rates have grown for women by
a whopping 27 percent.  There is also a
large margin of babies born with congenital syphilis, which was an increase of
6 percent from previous years.

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               A
single article can only tell so much about the issues that STDs pose for women, especially when the information in said
article pertains more strongly to a small subgroup of men. The most important
issue to be spoken about is still the stigma
that STDs carry for women, and why
having an STD is equated with promiscuity in women. For this subject, Bad Girls and Fallen Women: Chronic STD
Diagnoses as Gateways to Tribal Stigma written by Adina Nack (2002), is
better suited for this task of explaining. According to this journal, social
constructions of sexual disease and feminine morality come together and
threaten women’s health, and hinder diagnostics of these sexual diseases. Visits
to the doctor for these kinds of issues can be very frightening, and even
socially stigmatizing in relation to that particular woman’s sexual self. 

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