Author :- Rich Mancuso Oct. 14, 2020, 8:03 p.m.

2020 is finally coming to a close and many of us couldn't be happier. Politics aside, there is a great deal to be concerned about when thinking about our future, environment, and our health. I know, I know, just call me captain obvious. 

 Most of us go about our lives doing whatever we do best and want nothing more than to be happy; the LGBTQ community knows this struggle quite well, and this is especially true when it comes to the conversation of equality. The statement "All men are created equal" was obviously written in the context of male, land, and slave owners who wished to be free (oh the hypocrisy), and who had a great deal of power and influence. Clearly, this had nothing to do with poor people or those without power and had absolutely nothing to do with black men or men engaging in sexy "wig on a wig" action. To add insult to injury, women were ignored and had no rights whatsoever. Many women who were accused of engaging in any same-sex activity or sex with another of a different color were breaking moral law and laws against nature. These unfortunate people were either ostracized, banished, or even killed. If you wish to see how close-minded humans were back then, just look up the Salem witch trials.

  Obviously, the founding fathers did not have the foresight of 300 years into the future, or to guess that there would be a large population of people who think and feel very differently than old social norms would have previously dictated. Still, here we are, and many LGBTQ members are still fighting for equality. At least much of the original wording written in the late 1700s declarations can be used today to represent human beings who seek equality and respect, even though the struggle to convince others in power hasn't changed that much. 

Many LGBTQ members remember the moment they knew who they identify as and who they wanted to be, but navigating this new world of self-awareness and sexuality can cause trepidation and a great deal of anxiety. Especially when it comes to depending on what part of the world you have made your home.

There is a vast difference between being LGBTQ and living in southern California, compared to that of someone who has realized who they truly are and living in the middle east. The risk of "being true to thyself" is not without impending bodily harm or grave danger. As a straight white male with some privilege, I cannot even imagine living in that kind of fear for just being who you are and walking out your front door or dressing against social norms. It's not only disturbing but troubling that this fear happens every day to people; every day...

It's clear that many who have established their new identification or preference for gender have a great deal to think about, and the last thing on the list of worries is probably one that should be in the top three of concerns - Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections.  

So you have figured out who you are and who you want to be in this new future. You have also come to apparent conclusions of who you find attractive. I can only imagine the proverbial sigh of relief that has taken place and the release of anxiety. But starting a new relationship or navigating hookups is a much different world now, especially when it comes to the possibility of contracting STDs, and many that are acquired silently. 

Depending on your age, personal experiences, and education, I can almost guess that many people (straight included) will throw caution to the wind when meeting someone they really like and the last thing many will ask in is, "so when was the last time you were tested for STDs?" This question rarely gets asked, and the numbers of people who become infected daily would scare most people. 

What are STDs?

“Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections or STIs, are widespread. Millions of new infections occur every year in the United States.

Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez from Pexels

STDs are passed from one person to another through sexual activity, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex. They can also be passed from one person to another through intimate physical contact, such as heavy petting, though this is not very common.

STDs don't always cause symptoms or may only cause mild symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it. That is why it is essential to get tested if you are having sex. If you are diagnosed with an STD, know that all can be treated with medicine, and some can be cured entirely.” (Source- CDC)

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

STDs can be preventable if you know how to protect yourself and your partner.

Bacterial Vaginosis Any woman can get bacterial vaginosis. Having bacterial vaginosis can increase your chance of getting an STD.

Chlamydia Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can be easily cured. If left untreated, chlamydia can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.

Gonorrhea Anyone who is sexually active can get gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can cause very serious complications when not treated but can be cured with the right medication.

Hepatitis Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation.

Herpes  Genital herpes is a common STD, and most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it. I have written extensively on the subject, and go into much more detail on the virus and its implications on human beings here: Asking For Friend

HIV/AIDS & STDs People who have STDs are more likely to get HIV, when compared to people who do not have STDs.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and is mostly vaccine-preventable. Some health effects caused by HPV can be prevented with the use of current vaccines.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can lead to serious consequences, including infertility.

STDs & Infertility Chlamydia and gonorrhea are preventable causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility.

STDs during Pregnancy For a healthier baby, ask your doctor about STD testing.

Syphilis Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can have very serious complications when left untreated, but it is simple to cure with the right treatment.

Trichomoniasis Most people who have trichomoniasis do not have any symptoms.

Other STDs Chancroid, scabies, and more.

Bacterial STIs can be treated and cured, but STIs caused by viruses usually cannot be cured. It is important to note that you can get bacterial infections repeatedly, even if it is one that you were treated for and cured of in the past.

Also read "10 common STI's that you should know about"

(Cover photo by user3802032, Freepik)