Over the past year, reports have shown a significant increase in the number of people being diagnosed with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) or Infections (STIs), causing concern among healthcare professionals and the general public. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a massive impact on the increase in STD/STI cases.
According to public health experts, COVID-19 prevented people from receiving basic medical care, where SDT/STI screenings might take place, which led to a rise in sexually transmitted illnesses. Also, it diverted public health personnel from their work on STIs to COVID-19.
Lack of Access to Healthcare Services
Lack of access to healthcare services is one of the main causes of the STD epidemic that has exploded throughout the pandemic. During the time period of 2020 through 2021, the pandemic has led to extensive hospital closures, which makes it challenging for people to get regular checkups, including STD testing. As a result, STDs have taken longer to diagnose and treat, which has facilitated the disease’s spread.
The underfunded public health system is entrusted with trying to stem the tide of the rising number of STI infections, including monkeypox, which is also mostly carried during sexual contact, while COVID-19 continues to fester. The funding shortfalls over the years resulted in the closure of many government-run STI clinics. That alone has helped propel the increase in STIs, advocates say.
Reduced Safe Sexual Practices
Moreover, the pandemic has increased stress and worry, which has decreased the usage of safe sexual practices. To deal with the stress, some people may engage in unsafe sexual behavior, which raises the possibility of getting an STD. Lockdowns and other social isolation tactics have also made it harder for people to interact with one another, which has increased the popularity of online dating and casual sex.
Increased Screen Time
During the pandemic, screen time has significantly increased. Online dating has become more popular as people spend more time online. Due to the anonymity of virtual relationships, people may not be engaging in safe sex, which has led to a rise in unsafe sexual conduct.
Stigma and Misinformation
Another reason why STDs have surged during the pandemic is due to the stigma and misinformation surrounding STDs. People may be reluctant to get tested and treated due to fear of judgment or shame. Additionally, misinformation about STDs is prevalent on the internet, leading to a lack of knowledge and education about the importance of safe sex and routine testing.
To prevent the spread of STDs, it is crucial to prioritize access to healthcare services, educate people about the importance of safe sex, break down the stigma surrounding STDs, increase non-sexual physical activity, and provide accurate and reliable information to the public.