Words by Amiyah Golden
With the spooky season approaching, ghost, ghouls and goblins should be the least of your concerns — as an array of sexual diseases continue to linger among the living due to inadequate education, prevention and the overall stigma.
The existence of STDs and STIs is not just a “Goosebumps” tale but a very real problem that must be discussed. With the topic of sexual health often being regarded as “taboo,” it continues to perpetuate the idea of shame, leaving many people embarrassed and not taking the proper precautions and resources available. It leaves for this “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” culture that exacerbates the dangerous praxis of assumption — with many of those who participate in sexual activities feeling invincible against the grim reaper of infection (but remember STDs do not discriminate!) A plethora of people regardless of gender, race, sexuality or class are being given the unfortunate diagnosis on the daily. With a formidable historical past of homophobic postulations regarding STDs, specifically HIV and AIDS; much of the mainstream public internalized the notion that those who participate in heteronormative sex are exempt from such. This further, instilled fear into a society already plagued with ignorance, justifying many laws that were passed against the queer community. With Jacksonville Pride being this month, it is important that we unlearn the internalized prejudices that we may have and recognize that this epidemic affects everyone.
As a college student, I see firsthand the lack of urgency displayed when it comes to using protection. Many individuals often feel invincible (I don’t know why because even Iron Man died… rest his soul) but with the lack of precautions taken, it quite literally only takes one time for your entire life to be changed.
With an abundance of resources available we cannot blame it on the lack thereof …
As a student at the University of North Florida, I know they have an entire sector in Student Health Services that prioritizes testing, preventatives and contraceptives. Other Jacksonville colleges and universities also offer similar services for their students (just make sure to locate your school’s respective channels if you’re a student.)
This epidemic doesn’t just run rampant through horny college students but throughout the general population.
With local organizations and chapters such as the Northeast Florida Aids Network (NFAN) and the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF Healthcare Center) providing free testing for STIs and STDs, there should be no reason you aren’t using your responsibility to fight off a potential future of frightening repercussions because you decided to not practice safe sex!