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2.3 Million Cases: STI Rates in the US Reached a Record High in 2017

By August 28, 2018February 20th, 2020No Comments
Some data in this post was originally published on CNN. 4 minute read.

Breaking news reports are saying that, for the fourth consecutive year in the United States, rates of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia have climbed according to announcements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the National STD Prevention Conference in Washington.

Last year, nearly 2.3 million US cases of these sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed, according to preliminary data—that’s the highest number ever reported nationwide, breaking the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases, according to the CDC.

In 2013, there were 1,752,285 total cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in the United States. That number grew to 1,811,850 in 2014; 1,945,746 in 20152,094,682 in 2016; and 2,294,821 in 2017, according to the preliminary CDC data.

RelatedStudy Shows Students Who Consume Porn May Be More At Risk Of STIs

“We’re talking about millions of infections with just these three infections,” said Dr. Edward Hook, endowed professor of infectious disease translational research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine and scientific committee chair of the National STD Prevention Conference.

Read the full breaking news report on CNN’s website by clicking here.

Porn and its connections with sexually transmitted infections

Porn is often left out of the discussion about sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Allow us to take a minute to bring the issue of porn back into the conversation, and explain how the normalization of porn probably isn’t helping an already difficult issue.

In most of the porn industry, performers are not required to use protection while having sex on camera—even with riskier kinds of sex. And even though performers themselves have to be regularly checked for STDs and STIs, it only happens every few weeks, but the regular consumer wouldn’t know that.

And usually, they don’t leave the industry without having contracted some form of a sexually transmitted disease. But the regular consumer wouldn’t know that, either, because the industry works hard to keep up a glamorous image.

RelatedWhat Porn Culture And The HIV/AIDS Epidemic In Africa Have In Common

But what’s a lesson that sticks with the average consumer, then, especially when they’re young and probably don’t know much about sexual health? Judging by the average porn video found on mainstream sites, that lesson would be that using protection “is a nuisance,” and shouldn’t be bothered with.

Researchers are actually finding that porn’s influence can and does find its way into the sexual behaviors of our generation and the next. [1] For example, people who have consumed a significant amount of porn are more likely to start having sex sooner and with more partners, to engage in riskier kinds of sex that put them at greater risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, and to have actually contracted an STI. [2]

Related: Porn Industry Production Shuts Down For One Week Following Positive HIV Test

And in a place where there’s a record number of STIs for the fourth year running, this is pretty unhealthy behavior to be normalizing—both in the US and everywhere else around the world, really.

Relying on porn for “education”

Many young porn consumers rely on the warped fantasy of porn to form their ideas and expectations about sex. Too often, our generation and the next are learning about sex from watching pornography, which you can imagine presents more than a couple problems.

In fact, the majority of teens are getting at least some of their information about sex from porn, whether they mean to or not. [3] And just like cigarette commercials show healthy people puffing away instead of the cancer-causing reality, porn is offering a completely warped idea of what partners, sex, and relationships are really like. [4]

RelatedStudy Indicates High STD Incidence And Reinfection Among Porn Performers

Studies show that people who consume porn are far more likely to believe that things like group sex or risky sex acts are more common than their non-porn-consuming peers. [5] Why? Because that’s what they’ve seen in porn. In one study of popular porn videos, the average number of sexual partners in a scene was three, although the number ranged as high as 19. Today’s mainstream porn sites include whole categories of unprotected sex with strangers, brutal gang rape, and other dangerous and violent sex acts.

And in a world where there’s a higher risk than ever of getting infected, having the “fantasy” of risky porn sex normalized isn’t great for public health.

Inform, educate, raise awareness

Don’t miss what we’re saying here—we are not directly crediting a record 2.3 million-plus cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia to porn consumption. We’re simply pointing out that porn is clearly not helping an already difficult situation. If our generation is continually watching porn that doesn’t regularly show safer and healthy sex practices, how does this help to instill habits of protection that could help stop the spread of common diseases?

That’s why it’s so important that we act as a global team to inform, educate, and raise awareness that porn is not anything close to quality education when it comes to sex, and it’s completely unrealistic and even dangerous in what it portrays. This isn’t an issue that’s going to go away on its own—wherever we are, we need to take a stand for healthy relationships and spread the word that porn doesn’t provide quality, reliable information about healthy sex.

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Citations

[1] Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. M., (2016) Adolescents And Pornography: A Review Of 20 Years Of Research. Journal Of Sex Research, 53(4-5), 509-531. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1143441; Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908
[2] Morgan, E. M. (2011). Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction. Journal Of Sex Research, 48(6), 520-530. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2010.543960; Layden, M. A. (2010). Pornography And Violence: A New Look At The Research. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 57–68). Princeton, NJ: Witherspoon Institute; Carroll, J. S., Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Nelson, L. J. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance And Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal Of Adolescent Research 23(1), 6–30. Doi:10.1177/0743558407306348; Haggstrom-Nordin, E., Tyden, T., & Hanson, U. (2005). Associations Between Pornography Consumption And Sexual Practices Among Adolescents In Sweden. International Journal Of STD & AIDS, 16(2), 102–7. Doi:10.1258/0956462053057512; Wingood, G. M., Et Al. (2001). Exposure To X-Rated Movies And Adolescents’ Sexual And Contraceptive-Related Attitudes And Behaviors. Pediatrics, 107(5), 1116–19. Retrieved From Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pubmed/11331695
[3] Rothman, E. F., Kaczmarsky, C., Burke, N., Jansen, E., & Baughman, A. (2015). “Without Porn…I Wouldn’t Know Half The Things I Know Now”: A Qualitative Study Of Pornography Use Among A Sample Of Urban, Low-Income, Black And Hispanic Youth. Journal Of Sex Research, 52(7), 736-746. Doi:10.1080/00224499.2014.960908; Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Paul, P. (2007). Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families. New York: HenryHold And Co., 16-17; Prigg, M., & Sims, P. (2004). Truth About Dangers Of Net As Half Of Children Are Exposed To Porn. The Evening Standard (London), September 3; U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2003). File-Sharing Programs: Peer-To-Peer Networks Provide Ready Access To Child Pornography. Washington, D.C.: GAO, February.
[4] Paul, P. (2010). From Pornography To Porno To Porn: How Porn Became The Norm. In J. Stoner & D. Hughes (Eds.) The Social Costs Of Pornography: A Collection Of Papers (Pp. 3–20). Princeton, N.J.: Witherspoon Institute; Carroll, J. S., Padilla-Walker, L. M., And Nelson, L. J. (2008). Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance And Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal Of Adolescent Research, 23(1), 6–30. Doi:10.1177/0743558407306348; Layden, M. A. (2004). Committee On Commerce, Science, And Transportation, Subcommittee On Science And Space, U.S. Senate, Hearing On The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction, November 18; Marshall, W. L. (2000). Revisiting The Use Of Pornography By Sexual Offenders: Implications For Theory And Practice. Journal Of Sexual Aggression, 6(1-2), 67. Doi:10.1080/13552600008413310; Mosher, D. L. & MacIan, P. (1994). College Men And Women Respond To X-Rated Videos Intended For Male Or Female Audiences: Gender And Sexual Scripts. Journal Of Sex Research 31(2), 99–112. Doi:10.1080/00224499409551736; Brosius, H. B., Et Al. (1993). Exploring The Social And Sexual “Reality” Of Contemporary Pornography. Journal Of Sex Research, 30(2), 161–70. Doi:10.1080/00224499309551697
[5] Weinberg, M. S., Williams, C. J., Kleiner, S., & Irizarry, Y. (2010). Pornography, Normalization And Empowerment. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39 (6) 1389-1401. Doi:10.1007/S10508-009-9592-5; Doring, N. M. (2009). The Internet’s Impact On Sexuality: A Critical Review Of 15 Years Of Research. Computers In Human Behavior, 25(5), 1089-1101. Doi:10.1016/J.Chb.2009.04.003; Layden, M. A. (2004). Committee On Commerce, Science, And Transportation, Subcommittee On Science And Space, U.S. Senate, Hearing On The Brain Science Behind Pornography Addiction, November 18; ; Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence Of Unrestrained Access To Erotica On Adolescents’ And Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal Of Adolescent Health, 27(2), 41–44. Doi:10.1016/S1054-139X(00)00137-3
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