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Sexually Transmitted Diseases - Conclusion

family health prevention hidden united

Recent calls for changes in public policy in the United States have cited the "hidden epidemic" of STDs in the United States, an epidemic that is characterized as hidden from view, cloaked in nondisclosure, stigmatizing attitudes, avoidance of medical care, and a byproduct of a society not prone to discuss sexual behaviors and sexuality openly (Eng and Butler 1997). This hidden epidemic is fortified by social norms that do not promote healthy, sexual behavior. If true, this realization may explain differences in reported STD rates among industrialized nations and may be instrumental in elevated STD rates in many developing countries. Bringing the hidden epidemic out into the open may be the key to major progress in STD prevention in the United States and in other parts of the world.

However, there are other related and unrelated factors to consider when trying to understand why these ancient diseases continue to plague the globe, despite the fact that nearly all are preventable and most are curable. People throughout the world are becoming sexually active at younger ages, having more sex partners earlier in life, getting married later in life, and, in general, exposing themselves more often to the risk of acquiring STDs. World governments, by means of acceptance, greater commitment, and enlightened policies, and through better health care and expanded prevention programs, must address STD epidemics on multiple fronts. Despite the responsibilities of governments, international health organizations, and faith and volunteer-based organizations, individuals must also shoulder responsibilities and be sexually cautious, decrease their risks of acquiring and transmitting STDs, and access routine medical care to protect their own health and that of their sex partners and children.



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Anderson, R. M., and May, R. M. (1991). Infectious Diseases of Humans: Dynamics and Control. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2000). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 1992. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

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Michael, R. T. (1998). "Private Sexual Behavior, Public Opinion, and Public Health Policy Related to Sexually Transmitted Diseases." American Journal of Public Health 88(5):749–754.

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Ober, M., and Piot, P. (1993). "HIV Infection and Sexually Transmitted Diseases." In Disease Control: Activities in Developing Countries, ed. D. T. Jamieson, W. H. Mosley, A. R. Measham, and J. L. Bobadilla. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wasserheit, J. N. (1994). "Effect of Changes in Human Ecology and Behavior on Patterns of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, including Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection." Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States 91:2430–2435.

Other Resources

National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention. (2002). "Sexually Transmitted Disease Facts and Information." Available from www.cdc.gov/nchstp/dstd/disease_info.htm.

World Health Organization. (2001). "Global Prevalence and Incidence of Selected Curable Transmitted Infections—Overview and Estimates." Available from www.who.int/emc-documents/STIs/whocdscsredc200110c.html.


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about 10 years ago

Std's are becoming more and more common amongst todays youth putting a stop to this epidemic will be a challenge for many years to come.