Why Don’t Young People Get Tested As Often As They Should?
It is not a secret that young people are most likely to get a sexually transmitted disease. They are not only most sexually active, but they also choose unprotected sex for a variety of reasons, two of them being alcohol and drugs.
Even though young people account for half of all known sexually transmitted infections, most of them still haven’t been tested, while others get tested so rarely that it cannot really be considered as proper sexual health care.
Young People Choose Not to Get Tested
According to a 2013 survey of people aged 15 to 25 by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 11.5% out of 3.953 participants have been tested in the previous year. Furthermore, the survey found out that the number of sexually experienced young people who chose not to get tested because they ‘believed they were not at risk’ reaches 42%, which makes for almost half of them.
If you take a glance at the STDs statistics, you will see that young people are on the top of every list. According to the Centers for disease control, young people account for nearly 20 million STDs every year. The combination of improper sexual education and youth leaves young adults with many unanswered question, which in turn makes them vulnerable for STDs.
But, why are young people at highest risk of developing STDs? After all, sexual education is equal for both young people and adults and we cannot really say that adults do not have sex, can we?
Factors that Lead to Irregular or No Testing in Young Adults
Kendra Cuffe, a health scientist at the CDC lists ‘misunderstanding of risk and lack of access to care’ as the biggest barriers to testing of young people, while young people themselves mentioned confidentiality and cost as other reasons for this.
We present you with a list of the top reasons why young people do not get tested for STDs:
Concerns over Confidentiality
Research says that people of this age groups struggle with worries about confidentiality. The 2013 survey collected samples of two groups of young people – those financially dependent on parents, and others who were financially independent. Those aged 20-25 listed ‘lack of insurance’ as the main reason why they didn’t get tested, but people who are financially dependent on their parents chose ‘confidentiality and privacy’ as the main reason for avoiding testing.
It is quite understandable – young people are concerned about their privacy, especially when it comes to their health and something as private as sexual relations. The reason for this is that insurers often send notices and inform the young adults’ parents about the provided services. If a person is older than 18, they have the same privacy rights as adults, but they remain on a plan of a policyholder, usually their parent.
Concerns over Affordability
Young people who are dependent financially on others worry not only about keeping the results in secret, but also about affordability. Here arises the issue on getting tested on someone else’s insurance. Seeing that this group of people still depends on their parent payroll, they can rarely afford to pay for expensive testing on their own.
Embarrassment and Shame
CDC points out to shame and embarrassment as one of the biggest culprits behind this issue. According to them, people aged 15 to 25 avoid getting tested for STDs because they are ashamed to do so.
This is quite understandable. When people are young, getting their head around the idea that they may have a sexually transmitted disease is often overwhelming. Disclosing such a private matter just makes things more complex, which makes it easier to avoid getting tested altogether.
The sole thought of discussing their sexual life and admit they practiced unprotected sex to an adult such as pediatrician or a medical professional can be very difficult, especially for those who know that the sharing of this private matter does not end here. The delicate topic can easily reach the ear of the parent, if the patient is still financially dependent on him.
Bad Sexual Education
STDs is truly a delicate topic, but a lack of sexual education is the worst thing you can do to a young person. Many young people fail to recognize that STDs present without any symptoms most of the time and simply ‘wait out for the symptoms’ after having unprotected sex.
Young adults are unaware of the fact that untreated STDs can lead to mild, severe and even fatal complications if the virus continues to grow. Therefore, bad, improper or insufficient education is often the barrier between young people and timely diagnosis, which means that this group of people does not always have the blame for missing to do the recommended STDs checkups.
Lack of Recommendation for Testing
Even if young people do know the risk and ways STDs represent in infected patients, they may not be aware of the cautions that must be taken to avoid such risks. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, even 35% of all patients in a study chose’ lack of recommendation’ as the biggest reason for not getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
The lack of recommendations by doctor is also part of sexual education. Such lack can seriously harm sexually active young people and if they are unaware of the screening recommendations for STDs, can we really blame them for not getting tested as often as they should?
What Can Be Done?
As you can see, excuses are found everywhere and every young person will have a reason why they avoided STD testing until treatment became imminent and more complicated. The reasons will be endless, but there are only few things that actually CAN be done to ‘avoid the avoidance’.
Young people must be educated about the facts. They simply must be provided with all the tools they need to get tested for STDs and be allowed to do so in a private way. With regular STD testing and early treatment, the rate of STDs in young people would decrease significantly around the world.