S-T-D's...We are talking about Sexually Transmitted Diseases people! Don't let these words scare you. In fact, they should intrigue you!

About 60% of people under 50 years have Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. Ok, now not only should THIS scare you, but you should also be concerned. What are we doing wrong as young people? I'm sure many of us have people that trust with our deepest secrets, but why are we afraid to talk about getting tested?

The answer? STIGMA.

Not only has our understanding of STDs been dehumanized, but we have also been conditioned to shun those who are survivors and fighters of STDs. Many of us carry this bias with us in the back of our minds until we are personally faced with the problem with ourselves, friends or family. Only then are we more compassionate to their experiences and how they're treated in the world. We shouldn't wait until this point, though. We need to talk about why we should be getting tested and how we can support our friends who are affected before the situation occurs.

What's the WORST that could happen?

If someone brings it up, better yet if you bring it up, nobody is going to go running for the hills. People may be a little taken aback by the direction of the conversation, but you also can never assume what is already on someone else's conscious! We all have unique ways that we communicate with the people we care about. There is no set or specific way to address to the topic. You also don't want to force anyone to talk about anything that they are simply not ready for!

Be PREPared

Don't just bring up getting tested and not know how to find nearest please to get tested (for FREE preferably)! Know what resources are available and if they're easily accessible. Let's be honest, we have all sat through health classes and safe sex lectures, but how many of us really take the initiative we should when it comes to our sexual health?

Because I'm YOUR friend,

Here are a few websites that you can check out to learn more about your sexual health!

- Planned Parenthood

- Center for Disease Control (CDC)

- Get Yourself Tested (GYT) Awareness Campaign

Additionally, I want to personally encourage you all to be open, loving and accepting to any of your friends who do need support with their sexual health. It is NEVER something you should be ashamed of and allowing fear of what people will think of you for loving yourself will only make your environment more toxic. You love yourself and you love your friends and family, now show it—get TESTED!