The sexiest summer of your life has a burning problem
Like a butterfly from a cocoon, you come out of a year of confinement fully vaccinated, gorgeous and, let’s be honest, excited as a teenager.
Maybe you’ve flown solo all year, or maybe you’re just ready for your own Hot humid american summer live. People will outside – and you want to know them. Biblically.
Jesse mills knows you do. UCLA Santa Monica Urology Department Director and Male Reproductive Health Specialist Tells Reverse he expects people to get a little crazy – and soon.
âThere is so much pent-up demand,â he says. âOur dopamine levels have plummeted over the past 18 months because we couldn’t do what we wanted to do. It’s literally going to be upset for a while. “
But if it’s tempting to think that having escaped the pandemic fully vaccinated means you’re preparing for an infection-free summer, think again. And thinkâ¦ lower. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been on the rise over the past five years, and doctors like Mills say the last year created a perfect storm for those numbers to rise even more this summer.
“Syphilis is going crazy.”
Mills is particularly alarmed by the rise of syphilis, which was almost eradicated 20 years ago.
âSyphilis goes crazy,â he says. “I haven’t seen any syphilis in medical school, but it’s coming back in force.”
The increase in STIs doesn’t have to put the brakes on your post-vaccination hot summer. All it takes is a little knowledge, prophylactics (like condoms), and regular testing. If you take care of these three things, your post-containment summer just might be the best yet.
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe while having fun.
Sexually transmitted diseases vs. sexually transmitted infections
You are probably much more familiar with the term sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This is what they have been called in most sex education classes since the start of sex education classes. But it is not very precise.
STDs start as infections, and many STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia never progress to disease if they are treated early.
How to protect yourself from sexual transmission infections
“All the same rules apply [as before Covid], says Mills. Specifically, condoms and frequent testing.
There are parallels with the Covid-19 pandemic. There may be some risk, but as long as you are wearing a condom it is safe to be sexually active.
âJust like you can still go to Whole Foods if you wear a mask,â says Mills.
When should you get tested for STIs?
Everyone who is sexually active should be tested routinely for STIs once a year, after unprotected sex and between new partners. Since it can take 1 to 12 weeks for HIV to appear on some tests, it is a good idea to get tested twice after unprotected sex.
Where can you get tested for STIs?
If you have a regular health care provider, they can test you for STIs. Here are a few places to look if you want a lower cost or even free test:
- Your city or county health department.
- Family planning – although it is often associated with women’s health care, the PP also offers men’s benefits. These are usually offered on a sliding cost scale, which means you only pay what you can afford.
- Mobile health clinics
- Direct testing with consumers – companies like STDcheck.com will help you pass the test without involving insurance.
- Nonprofits: You might be surprised at how many nonprofits in your area offer STI testing. A quick Google search for “STI or STD tests near me” is likely to yield promising results.
Is Covid-19 sexually transmitted?
Mills says that if you are fully vaccinated, you don’t have to worry about contracting Covid-19 through sex. Vaccines provide strong protection against transmission and excellent protection against the development of serious disease.
Did STIs Increase During Covid-19?
It’s hard to know. What we do know, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, is that STI screening dramatically decreased during the pandemic.
“Tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea fell by about 59% for women and 63% for men in early April 2020 before gradually rebounding to about 15% below the baseline of d ‘by the last week of the study period,’ write the study authors.
So we know the testing rates were low. We also know that in 2019, in the months leading up to the outbreak, STI rates were high.
“This [STI progress of the last 20 years] has since collapsed.
STI rates have been steadily increasing since 2015. Meanwhile, preliminary data of the Centers for Disease Control on STDs specifically suggests that things are not improving. The most recent hard data we have is from 2019 and it’s pretty grim.
According to the CDC, here’s where things were in 2019:
- About 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, the three most frequently reported STDs in 2019.
- An increase of almost 30% of these reportable STDs between 2015 and 2019.
- The largest increase is in cases of syphilis in newborns (i.e. congenital syphilis), which almost quadrupled between 2015 and 2019.
In one declarationRaul Romaguera, Acting Director of the CDC’s STD Prevention Division, said: âLess than 20 years ago, gonorrhea rates in the United States were at historically low levels, syphilis was close to l The elimination and advances in the diagnosis of chlamydia made it easier to detect infections.
âThat progress has since collapsed,â Romaguera said, âand our defenses against STDs are down.â
What causes the peak in sexually transmitted infections?
Mills says two main factors have been responsible for infections over the past six years:
- Increase in sex partners due to ease and anonymity of dating apps
- Decrease in condom use thanks to better treatment for STIs
Remarkably effective treatments for HIV have left many people thinking that STIs aren’t big business, Mills says.
âA lot of people are willing to pay the price for an injection of azithromycin or Rocephin to get rid of gonorrhea,â he explains. âThe risk of dying from AIDS is almost zero, so people think they can just use antibiotics to get rid of everything else. “
But while antibiotics can be extremely effective against some STIs, Mills warns the process isn’t as simple as you might think.
Antibiotics work best when these infections are caught early. But it is not uncommon for people to have few or no symptoms of these infections. If allowed to progress undetected, these infections can lead to serious illness, infertility and even death.
“It’s not also easy like it was in the 70s.
To complicate matters further, beyond the dependence on antibiotics on prophylactics like condoms, the increase in antibiotic resistance.
âIt’s not as easy as it was in the ’70s, when everything responded to penicillin,â says Mills. “We already have a lot of superbugs [antibiotic resistant bacteria]. “
A 2016 report of the World Health Organization says that antibiotic resistance in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis has “increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options … MDR-resistant strains of gonorrhea that do not respond no available antibiotics have ever been detected â.
It’s a scary thought. Fortunately, there are some simple, inexpensive, and effective ways to protect yourself.