STDs, Matchmaking, and Online Health May 10, 2011Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
Tags: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cervical Cancer, Health, HIV, Human papillomavirus, Public health, Reproductive health, Sexually transmitted disease, Vaccine
***POST AND VIDEO NOT SUITABLE FOR SCHOOL OR CHILD VIEWING***
More people seek answers to health questions online than from a physician. It’s no surprise, really. If you or someone you care about may be afflicted with a health condition, why wait for an appointment and make your co-pay when you can instantly get answers from trusted medical sites for free? Today, 83% of online users have consulted the Internet regarding health issues – especially sexual health. Another reason: anonymity.
According to a CNN report from last October, three of the top five health searches are pregnancy, herpes, and STD. Frequently these searches are conducted from cell phones for reasons you can probably guess (often beginning with poor planning and ending in panic).
But that isn’t the only change in online health and lifestyle. The CDC states that each year there are 19,000,000 new cases of STDs in the U.S. That’s right: 19 M. Over one million of these have joined http://www.herpesmingle.com, a site devoted to matching infected people with other infected people. There are other disease-specific matchmaking sites, of course, each with their own quickly growing user base.
Regular testing every few months can detect a re-infection of chlamydia or gonorrhea. But many of today’s STDs evolve into new strains. Management of one strain will not treat or protect against a new strain. Re-infection incidence is likely to rise in correlation with the increased use of STD dating sites.
Achievable risk-reduction goals have been set and do tend to influence behavior. In addition to prevention counseling about STD/HIV, abstinence and partner management, pre-exposure vaccines for two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) are available to prevent the virus that causes cervical cancer and genital warts. A Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all unvaccinated, uninfected persons undergoing disease evaluation.
This video has shown to change behavior and prompt discussion of STD prevention with partners when shown in testing clinics:
Disease rates and evolution can be curtailed with extensive public health outreach. Find a local testing site here. STDs are preventable!