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University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

Gender-Diverse Teens More Likely to Have Risky Sex Than Cisgender Peers

From Poz.com

Compared with their cisgender peers, gender-diverse teens are more likely to report sexual behaviors that put them at risk for HIV and other sexual health concerns, including the use of drugs or alcohol prior to sex, MedPage Today reports.

Brianna S. McMichael, MSN, MPH, of Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis, conducted a survey of 411 teenagers who came into two emergency departments in the Midwestern city. She presented findings from the study at the American Academy of Pediatrics virtual meeting.

The study recruited young people 12 to 18 years old and provided them with an iPad on which to complete a survey while their parents stepped out of the room. Young people who came to the emergency department for mental health reasons or who were considered at risk for suicide were excluded.

Read the full article on Poz.com or from the original source, MedPage Today.

What STDs Can Tell Us About How To Fight Covid

From Politico…

As Covid-19 has rampaged across the United States, government officials have struggled with the basic steps needed to contain the pandemic. Should everyone get tested, or just people with symptoms? Should public health officials require Americans to wear masks or not? What’s the best way to track the infection, particularly in marginalized communities?

For one set of public health experts, the heated debates over testing, wearing masks and contact tracing were eerily familiar — as odd as it might seem, these are similar to arguments that officials and academics working to eradicate sexually transmitted diseases have been having for decades as they’ve worked to bring down the rates of infections like HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Read the full article.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased among younger women, study finds

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are increasing among women ages 18 to 30 in the United States, a recent study by Quest Diagnostics suggests.

The study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed more than 17 million laboratory samples taken between 2010 and 2017 from females ages 12 to 30. Researchers found that while there was a decline in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea among adolescents ages 12 to 17, women of ages 25 to 30 experienced a 50% increase in positive test results. Women 18 to 24 had a 21% increase in positive test results over the period of the study.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among sexually active women under 25, said Harvey Kaufman, director of Quest’s Health Trends Research Program. For women 25 and older, the CDC recommends screenings only for those with specific risk factors, such as reporting that their sex partner may have a concurrent sex partner. Kaufman, a co-author of the study, said the findings suggest that sexual and contraceptive practices have changed since 2002, when the CDC guidelines were first published.

Kaufman pointed out that the CDC guidelines were largely influenced by a 1998 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that the overall rate of chlamydia among female Army recruits was 9.2%. As a result, the authors of the study recommended a screening program for female recruits 25 and under.

Read the full article. 

Women’s Health: Facts about Birth Control, STIs and Condoms

From the Society of Behavioral Medicine

A Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is a bacterial or viral infection that is passed from one person to another through sexual contact (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral). More than 25 STIs have been identified, affecting 20+ million men and women in the U.S. each year.

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI, even without having penetrative sex (i.e., vaginal or anal sex). Some STIs, like herpes and HPV, are spread by skin-to-skin contact. Many STIs don’t show symptoms for a long time. Even without the presence of symptoms, they can still be harmful and passed between partners during sex (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral).

woman holding condoms

STIs occur in all parts of the population.

Young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 account for nearly half of all new STIs infections each year.

Racial and ethnic minority groups are experiencing significant increases in STI rates. In 2017, the rate of reported cases of Chlamydia among Black females was five times the rate of White females and 6.6 times greater in Black males than White males.

STI rates have significantly increased within the LGBTQIA+ community. A 2018 CDC report states Gonorrhea diagnoses nearly doubled between 2013-2018 in gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Data from 2018 indicate that gay and bisexual men accounted for 54% of all syphilis cases.

People 60+ account for the largest increase of in-office STI treatment. Between 2014-2017, rates for Herpes simplex, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Trichomoniasis, and Chlamydia rose 23% in this population.

Women who are pregnant can become infected with the same STDs as women who are not pregnant.

Fact: Oral contraceptives (birth control) cannot prevent an STI.

A common myth is that birth controls can prevent the spread of STIs. Two of the most common forms of birth controls are oral contraceptives and condoms. Many people may not use condoms because they are using another form of birth control, and feel they are safe from STIs.

Oral contraception is only effective in preventing pregnancy and cannot stop STIs from being passed between sexual partners.

Fact: Condoms can prevent an STI.

Correctly using male and female condoms can help prevent the spread of STIs and help prevent pregnancy. Dental dams, a barrier method for oral sex, can also help prevent STIs when used correctly. Most condoms and dental dams are made from latex or polyurethane, which may be preferable for individuals with a latex allergy.

Read the full article on Society of Behavioral Medicine.

STDs are sexist

From CNN

America is in the middle of an epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, and when it comes to heterosexual transmission, it’s hitting women the hardest. Why is that?

Simply put, because “STDs are biologically and psycho-socially sexist at all levels,” said Dr. Hunter Handsfield, a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD who has studied sexually transmitted diseases for 40 years.

“Women bear the largest burden of these diseases,” agreed Dr. Edward Hook, co-director of the Center for Social Medicine and Sexually Transmitted Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Chlamydia and gonorrhea, for example, are two of the leading preventable causes of infertility and ectopic pregnancies in the United States, and on Earth.”

Read the full article.

Sex and COVID-19

It may seem obvious that if a person is infected with COVID-19, they risk infecting others during sex. But people still have a lot of questions. Here’s an excerpt on the topic form the Mayo Clinic Website:

man and woman embrace

The virus spreads by respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can be inhaled or land in the mouth or nose of a person nearby. Coming into contact with a person’s spit through kissing or other sexual activities could expose you to the virus. People who have COVID-19 could also spread respiratory droplets onto their skin and personal belongings. A sexual partner could get the virus by touching these surfaces and then touching his or her mouth, nose or eyes. In addition, the COVID-19 virus can spread through contact with feces. It’s possible that you could get the COVID-19 virus from sexual activities that expose you to fecal matter.

There is currently no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through semen or vaginal fluids, but the virus has been detected in the semen of people who have or are recovering from the virus. Further research is needed to determine if the COVID-19 virus could be transmitted sexually.

Since some people who have COVID-19 show no symptoms, it’s important to keep distance between yourself and others if the COVID-19 virus is spreading in your community. This includes avoiding sexual contact with anybody who doesn’t live with you. If you or your partner isn’t feeling well or think you might have COVID-19, don’t kiss or have sex with each other until you’re both feeling better. Also, if you or your partner is at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19 due to an existing chronic condition, you might want to avoid sex.

In case that wasn’t clear, The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), in partnership with National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), released a frequently asked questions resource regarding sex and COVID-19. In short, if you’re in the same room with someone who has the virus, you can get infected–sex or no sex.

If you have questions about getting tested, talk to your doctor or health care provider. You can also find testing in your area via a Google search. In Pennsylvania, call the Health Department at 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

Demi Moore’s New Erotic Podcast ‘Dirty Diana’ Is All About Women’s Pleasure & Sex Positivity

From sheknows.com

When it comes to stories about sex, the male gaze remains a constant threat to portrayals of real intimacy without the performative, who-is-this-for-anyway? energy that totally kills the mood. One partial solution? Cut the literal gaze entirely and pair with radical, honest and complicated portrayals of sex. Demi Moore’s latest project, “Dirty Diana” is an erotic podcast that does just that — and unapologetically centers women’s sexual pleasure in a positive and shame-free way.

“There’s so much unspoken shame attached to our sexuality. It’s this conditioning telling us that it’s only okay for us to desire sex if it’s for the purpose of procreation or if it’s somebody that we intend to be with for the rest of our lives,” Moore told Vogue in a recent interview. “Even though we’re modern women who can feel that we are more liberated, it’s still this undercurrent. [Dirty Diana] was so sex-positive. I was in.”

Actress Demi Moore
Actress Demi Moore

The sexy podcast follows the story of Diana (played by Moore) who, unsatisfied in a sexless and uninteresting marriage, secretly runs an erotic website where women reveal their intimate sexual fantasies and features the voice talent of other celebs you may recognize (including Melanie Griffith, Lena Dunham and Lili Taylor) along the way. And somehow the entire thing was recorded on Zoom!

See the full article on sheknows.com.

How We See Ourselves in Our Fantasies, and What It Means

From Justin J. Lehmiller Ph.D., in Psychology Today…

man and woman having sexWhen you fantasize about sex, do you appear in your own fantasies? If so, do you appear as you do in real life, or do you change yourself in some way?

I studied the sexual fantasies of 4,175 Americans from all 50 states for my book Tell Me What You Want, and one of the many things I looked at was the way that we see ourselves. What I found was that many people change some aspect of themselves, such as their body, their genitals, or their personality. However, I found that different people change themselves in very different ways and that the types of changes people make seem to say something important about them. However, they also say something about our culture.

When I asked people whether or not they appear in their own fantasies at least some of the time, almost everyone (97.1 percent) said yes. Further, most people said they appear in their own fantasies most of the time.

Read the full article on Psychology Today

STIs During Pregnancy: Knowing The Signs & Risks

From Babygaga.com

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) pose a serious risk to the health of an expecting woman’s pregnancy, particularly if left untreated. Luckily, most STIs are caught at the first prenatal screening, as the doctor will test for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, chlamydia, and syphilis, as many STIs go untreated if a woman isn’t showing symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend testing for gonorrhea or hepatitis C during if you have been promiscuous prior to or during pregnancy. If a woman is sexually active throughout her pregnancy, particularly if she has multiple partners, then she runs the risk of contracting an STI. The later the trimester, the more harmful an STI can be to the pregnancy.

Read the full article.

Can STDs Go Away On Their Own?

From Shape.com

On some level, you probably know that STDs are far more common than your middle school sex ed teacher led you to believe. But get ready for a stat-attack: Every day, more than 1.2 million STDs are acquired worldwide, and in the United States alone there are nearly 20 million new STD cases each year, according to a report from The World Health Organization (WHO). Wowza!

decorative imageWhat’s more, experts say that they’re likely even more prevalent than these numbers suggest, because the numbers reported above are only confirmed cases. Meaning, someone got tested and was positive.

“While it’s best practice to get tested every year or after every new partner—whichever comes first—most folks with an STI don’t have symptoms and most folks don’t get tested unless they have symptoms,” explains Sherry A. Ross, M.D., ob-gyn and author of She-ology. Hey, there’s no way for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or WHO to know if you have an STI you don’t even know about! There’s also the chance that you think something is up, but you decide to wait it out and see if it’ll “take care of itself.”

Here’s the thing: While STIs are definitely not a death sentence for you or your sexcapades, if left untreated, they can cause some serious health conditions. Below, experts answer all your questions about whether STIs can go away on their own, the risks of leaving an STI untreated, how to get rid of an STD if you have one, and why regular STI testing is so important.