Is there a correlation between the rise of “hookup” sites like tinder and the increase in STDs? How do you ask your new partner about their sexual health? Or, are we just a more hyper-sexualized society that just throws caution to the wind when it comes to protecting ourselves? Well, I’m not quite sure which is the right answer. However, we can take a look at a smaller sample size in the state of California, more specifically the county of Los Angeles for some possible answers.
Current studies are indicating that theses stds, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have consistently been the highest infections in California. This a real concern! It is also a difficult conversation to have or bring up with your partner. Now I’m not going to dedicate this space to exploring our sexual health, rather, it is the psychological effect that contracting an STD has on a person that I want to address in this blog.
Have you considered what happens to a person when they learn that they have an STD? What I have witnessed take place with many clients is that suddenly their emotional state of mind becomes unstable, their anxiety rises, and eventually depression follows. Simply put, the dominoes begin to fall. Rarely, do I get the client when they are newly diagnosed, rather, they have already been battling the depression, anxiety, and accompanying stress for quite some time.
In reality, when people receive their diagnosis, life is never the same again. This is extremely difficult to wrap their heads around. Many times, this revelation of a sexually transmitted disease literally brings to light previously undetected, repressed, or eschewed mental illnesses.
On the opposite spectrum, my experience with some teenagers and some adults has been a interesting choice to pursue extreme sexual activity with the knowledge that they are suffering from the effects of their mental illness related to their contracted STDs. Remember, depression can cause isolation, break off connections and make one feel like they are the proverbial “island.” The psychological impact of contracting an STD is far greater than what you think, so please think and educate yourself, partner, friends, and your family. To help, their are a number of good studies written here that I suggest you read, so click HERE
A couple of weeks ago I was intrigued by a frontline sensationalized article in a european newspaper. This online news source was breaking the news that a famous celebrity had HIV, but, was refusing to come forward for fear of the consequences to his career, costly lawsuits, and hatred and vitriolic dialog that would surely come from his announcement. The article was very descriptive and in telling that many famous actresses in hollywood, international models, TV stars, male and female porn stars had sexual encounters with this person. Adding to this, the pressure to come forward now and confess his acts.
Admittedly, I did wonder who it might be, yet, I thought this person was probably really agonizing over this decision and hoped he or she was seeking professional help. However, this article furthered my thoughts on what I could do to be a resource for people like you and me who have contracted HIV.
We all know now that Charlie Sheen is that famous celebrity who has contracted HIV. I watched his interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show and found it to be very insightful. I believe it was a smart move bringing in his personal physician who’s been treating him to explain the difference between HIV and AIDS. Let me pause here, if you did not watch the interview or read the transcript let me point this out, HIV is a virus that leads to AIDS. Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, however, he does not have AIDS! That is a very important part of his story that is being misunderstood.
What I look at are the underlying mental health issues that lead one to make harmful personal choices, put their health and others in danger, cope by way of addictive behaviors. Charlie was depressed. He self medicated with harmful drugs, toxic levels of alcohol, numerous hypersexual liaisons with prostitutes, celebrities, models, and porn stars of both genders. His angry tirades, non-sensical monologues (remember “tiger blood”), and erratic behavior went viral. He was a media sensation, a tabloid punching bag for months, and one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, as well.
I’m certainly not excusing his lifestyle choices, however, what I take issue with is that he was forced (blackmailed) to reveal his illness to the world. In the age of the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat we are in everyone’s business. Personal lives aren’t! Social media is just that, social. Let’s step back a moment and think about this, would you want people to know you have a mood disorder, HIV, prone to long episodes of depression, suffer with paralyzing anxiety that build to spontaneous panic attacks? How about your employer finding out that you have OCD so severe that the compulsions cause you to take an inordinate amount of sick days? What about them finding out that your ADD is so bad that you have a habitual pattern of not being able to complete tasks, meet deadlines, or stay organized? You get my points, right?
This is bigger than Charlie Sheen, HIV and AIDs are very serious and continue to deserve our attention, but, not in this type of public forum. This a very personal struggle. Certainly, we can show compassion for the pain he’s in and he needs to be freed from the haters, opportunists, and blackmailers so he can concentrate on his health. At some point he’ll be able to put HIV in the RIGHT spot light. My hope is that we can be respectful of one another’s privacy, as we would like the same for ourselves.