So I work at a sexual health clinic and see a lot of people coming in who are quite paranoid about STIs and often request testing for things they don’t show symptoms for (last week there was someone who wanted a test for trichomoniasis and some other diseases I had never even heard of). The kicker was that he showed us an article he had found on the internet in order to justify why he needed tests for those.
This got me thinking about the wealth of information that exists out there now, in the age of advanced technology and communication. How do you think health literacy can be improved, particularly around sexual health? Would love to hear your thoughts.
@champagnepapi Honestly had to google trichomoniasis because I’d never heard of it either! It’s unfortunate that they felt the need to justify the need for any test at all as well tbh
I mean, places like Play Safe definitely help haha! But like, I am very very guilty of heading straight to google to put in all my symptoms and then usually end up with DEATH results,,,, Maybe Google could implement a flagging system where legitimate sources have a tick or something next to them, like how official accounts have on Twitter/Instagram?
Sexual health is just such a tricky area to moderate in terms of health literacy since policies surrounding sexual health education is so strict. More initiatives like Healthy Harold could be cool too (plus I love Harold)!
@champagnepapi @tea I also had to Google it. Never heard of it! Maybe @nurse_nettie can shed some light on what it is and if it’s something we should be thinking about.
I think it’s only a good thing that people are paying more attention to their sexual health (or any health at all) but it is such a fine line between being empowered and falling victim of fake information.
That’s why government initiatives like this one are so important – I think it helps to show that you can trust it.
I think shifting away from focusing on diseases (like Mean Girls, “you will get chlamydia…and die!) and onto what to do in your normal sex life could help.
Focusing on the use of barrier protection, how frequently you should get tested etc. might help put people’s minds at ease and give them comfort that they’re doing what they can to stay protected.
“it is such a fine line between being empowered and falling victim of fake information.”
100% !!!!!! It’s so easy to spread misinformation too, people aren’t fact checking when they do find things either? The number of things that get shared on my FB feed without the person even reading what it’s about is just ludicrous. It’s like people just take information at face value now? Is this a time constraint thing? Technology harbouring an ‘instant result’ culture?
@aunt_flo Yesss, barrier protection!!! Totally agree with framing it in terms of comfortability! I mean, that’s what sex and sexual education should be about really!!
Hi @champagnepapi & @ekoorb9, these are all good points. The web contains a lot of accessible info, however like @tea says – people do need to think about how valid some sites are. Some information is outdated or in the context of a different country. Some sites claim to be about health & wellbeing however are generally relying on advertising & marketing.
Searching for causes of symptoms is unreliable. For example…search for ‘penile lump’ online & you’ll get 463,000 results from pearly penile papules (which are normal) to cancer. Recent research informs us that Trichmoniasis or ‘trich’ is uncommon for people living in urban locations of NSW. Also it’s an infection found more in women than men.
Anxiety is a really common problem & the stigma about sex & STIs drives this.
How can we improve health literacy? I think checking where people are sourcing their info & guiding them to accurate & current sexual health info will help. I also would discourage people checking any symptoms online. The only way to find answers is to visit a doctor.