We’ve been hearing this rationalization for decades. People get STDs because of stigma, not because they are irresponsible in their sexual relations.
Now, the stigma card is being played to explain recent increases in syphilis and gonorrhea. From the Bloomberg story:
Gay and bisexual men may not have access to high-quality care, because homophobia and stigma around STDs may prevent men from being tested, Bolan said. This is particularly true of poor people in the South, said George W. Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco. “With most of these populations, having a sexually transmitted disease from having sex with another man is highly stigmatized,” he said. “They’d rather not get tested for HIV, syphilis, or whatever. They don’t want it to show up on their records.”
But STDs are also rising in San Francisco–hardly Stigma Central about matters sexual. From the 4/30/13 SF Examiner story:
Infection rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis among San Francisco residents have been steadily rising since 2007, according to the Department of Public Health…New cases of syphilis have more than doubled during that time frame, from 40 cases per 100,000 people to over 105 in 2012, according to statistics presented by the health department.
Back to Bloomberg where there is a narrative to be pushed, and they’re stickin’ to it:
Syphilis was at an all-time low in the U.S. in 1999 and 2000, Bolan said. Though the CDC surveyed individuals about risk factors, such as unprotected sex or a higher number of partners, there hasn’t been enough difference in behavior to explain the increase, she said. Probably stigma is playing a role.
Probably? In other words, pure supposition.
Note that there is not one strong and clear statement by either the reporter or “expert” advising people to stop engaging in sexual practices that are dangerous.
That’s not how we handle smoking. We don’t say, we know you only smoke because you have low self esteem.
No: We say, “Don’t Smoke! It’s bad for your health!”
We show gory pictures of cancer victims on cigarette packages. Hospitals announce they will refuse to hire smokers. We charge them more for health insurance, even under Obamacare.
It is also the approach we take to combat obesity. There is even talk of denying health care to obese individuals as an incentive to get them to lose weight.
Why not also the “judgmental” approach to STDs? Yes, yes: I know. That would be very unPC.