We know that people get sexually transmitted diseases. We can all remember the time when someone came into our health class in high school to show us scary pictures of what infected organs look like, strongly implying that engaging in sex would immediately cause our body parts to look similarly, and causing that ONE kid to pass out at the sight of some oozing orifice.
But not all of us have been up close and personal with an STD. (Or at least, we didn’t realize it at the time ... !)
So -- who has STDs? As is true in other realms of life -- there is a lot of disparity in the populations that are most affected by the infections. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent data, which looks at the rates and reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2009, STDs consistently impact certain groups more heavily than others.
To start with:
Due to a variety of factors -- both anatomical and societal -- women are more susceptible than men to sexually transmitted infections and rate of infection among women “was almost three times higher than among men”. The lining of the vagina is delicate and the moist environment is very conducive to bacterial growth.
Symptoms of STDs are less likely to be noticed in women, and more likely to be confused for something else like a yeast infection, natural discharge or sign of menstruation.
Furthermore, statistically speaking, a woman is more likely than a man to be coerced into sexual relations against her will, to be forced by circumstance to trade sex for money/food/shelter/etc., and to have less control over whether protection is utilized during intercourse.
2. Young Women
Young adults under age 25 are at higher risk for contracting STDs than adults, and according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately 1 in 4 sexually active people between age 15 and 24 contract an STD each year (2006).
Young women under 25 are especially affected by chlamydia and gonorrhea, which are both usually asymptomatic and can therefore go undiagnosed for long periods of time.
3. Young Black Women