The Truth Behind #UsherGate

This post was sparked by a friend’s Facebook post that I read this morning. The post was discussing the R&B singer, Usher, and the lawsuit filed by three people accusing him of not disclosing an alleged herpes infection prior to engaging in sexual contact. This scandal has taken social media by storm with people using the hashtag #UsherGate.

Regardless of your opinions on the issue, it reinforces the fact that many people do not take their sexual health seriously. It also sheds light on the hypocrisy of our culture when it comes to routine screening and testing. Let’s unpack this a little further.

Sex is everywhere and clearly, sex sells. It is used in marketing to sell anything from mints to airline tickets. We have even allowed sex to be infused in our children’s TV shows and movies. If sex is allowed to be seen and heard in just about every aspect of our lives, why does it become a taboo subject when it’s time to discuss one of the potential consequences of sex?

Yes, I am talking about STIs. If you are unfamiliar with what an STI is, it is a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, etc.

If I walked into a room and asked the question, “Who should get routinely tested for STIs?” I would probably get a variety of responses.

Some might say the people who engage in promiscuous sex.

Others would say only people who are not in monogamous relationships.

But why?

Why should STI testing be limited?

The CDC estimates there are approximately 20 million new STI infections annually. Combining that with the number of existing infections at any given time, that’s roughly 110 million total.

With the prevalence of infection so high you would think that regular testing would be normalized across our culture. This unfortunately, is not the case.

In some relationships, even the mention of STI testing can be a point of contention.

Feelings of distrust, unfaithfulness, embarrassment, or even shame may arise. But I think that it should be seen more as a matter of accountability and maturity. Too often people associate STIs with infidelity, or someone being nasty. The truth is, some of us may be passing judgment when we might have had our own brush with exposure.

It’s time to break down the stigma of getting tested.

STIs can happen to anyone.

We should be proactive about our sexual health and use proper protection and barrier methods to avoid contracting STIs in the first place.

Also, we need to hold our partners accountable. Get tested together or at least discuss when the last time that you both got tested was. It should be a joint responsibility and I believe in getting tested before a problem even occurs; don’t wait until you think something is wrong.

STI testing is not just for some, it is for everybody. Usher included.

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