“Well, you’re on the pill, right?” appears to be a common question that people in Charlotte find themselves asking and answering after a night out.
Whether we admit it or not, the proof is in the statistics.
When it comes to STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, Charlotte has one of the highest occurrence rates in the country.
According to the Health Department, the rate of gonorrhea cases increased 15% between 2011 and 2015, making it the county with the 21st-most new cases in the nation.
Chlamydia and Syphilis are steadily increasing as well. In 2015, 763 new cases of chlamydia were reported, up from 628 in 2013. Syphilis’ presence has more than doubled in the same amount of time, with 24.6 new cases per every 100,000 people, up from 11.1 in 2013.
And that’s just what’s reported. The health department acknowledges that STDs are more common than we think.
Why won’t we admit that it’s happening?
It’s not just Charlotte. As a whole, the state ranks third in the highest rate per capita of STDs according the CDC. Plenty of the blame for the increase has been placed on the shoulders of dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr.
The proof is in the numbers. When Tinder launched in 2012, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases statewide hovered at 519.1, 146.7 and 3.4 per 100,000 people. By 2015, they clocked in at 541, 170 and 11.3, respectively.
Despite the increase, most people I spoke with denied that unprotected sex happens often.
In fact, one of the most common answers I got when I asked the question of when it wasn’t used was that most only throw it to the wayside once they begin sleeping with someone that they’re “talking to.”
Only one person, a 25-year-old woman, admitted that there have been times that the use of and concern over protection beyond the pill – morning after and otherwise – has often come second to drunken desire.
“Ballpark, like four, I think,” she said when I asked how many times in the last year it’s happened. She refers to them as “bad drunken choice[s].”
She also believes that it’s a more common occurrence than any of us are willing to let on.
Using protection is a conversation that we need to be having – so why aren’t we?
PSA: Being on the pill doesn’t fully count as using protection.
Admittedly, talking about protect isn’t fun and it certainly isn’t sexy. But shouldn’t not talking about it – or having to fill the prescription for the antibiotic – be what kills the mood?
I’m always doing field research on my fellow twenty-somethings. Want to talk about sex (or literally anything else) with me? Say hi.