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STI / CONDOM AWARENESS
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We know it’s easy to glaze over at the first sight of another sexual health campaign. None of us really want to think about the bacteria and viruses that join us in the bedroom, but they are out there and you never know when they’ll be crashing your party.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are not new and they certainly aren’t rare! With one in five people in South Africa living with genital herpes alone and 12 million people worldwide being infected with an STI (excluding HIV), we must realise that anyone is a target and only very safe sexual behaviour will decrease your risk of infection.
With STI/Condom week upon us, let’s look at the hard facts and inspire action in ourselves and others to prevent the spread of STIs.
You can get an STI
Yes, it’s natural to stand back with an "it-wont-happen-to-me" attitude. An STI is a threat to our health and to separate ourselves from this threat, we automatically associate it with other people by thinking things like; "STI’s only happen to promiscuous people."
The truth is that anyone who has sexual contact (this includes oral sex or even just naked fondling) with a partner is at risk of contracting an STI.
Safer sex may not seem like an easy option for everybody when they’re caught up in the moment but it will seem a lot easier in hind sight when you’re dealing with an STI.
Life after an STI
Living with an incurable STI is tough, to say the least. But it’s not impossible. With a few adjustments, the right mindset, and a wealth of information, you can live a full and rewarding life.
Research suggests that being optimistic boots the immune system. Of course, being chipper won’t remove the need for medication and a treatment plan, but it may mean fewer symptoms or less medications. So surround yourself with positive people, laugh out loud, and focus on the good things in life.
Not smoking, eating well-balanced meals, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, getting your eight hours of sleep, and managing your stress can improve your mental and physical health significantly.
Share your knowledge
After you have come to terms with life with an STI, take the time to help others who may not have the emotional strength or the resources to do the same. Give talks to others about preventing infection, start a support group, volunteer, or start a blog about your experience of living with an STI.
You have an STI; it doesn’t have you. You can manage it and choose how it affects your life. Just remember that you will have to be sexually responsible and sexually educated to prevent infecting others and getting infected yourself.
It may be a different life, but it’s yours. So live it!