How can we encourage young people to be tested for STDs?
Winnie Adebayo, Ph.D., an assistant professor of nursing at Penn State College of Nursing, researches how to encourage young people to take the initiative to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Dr. Adebayo’s interest is in sexual health, especially in keeping young people healthy and avoiding negative health outcomes. In nursing practice, she noticed a trend of young people with signs and symptoms of STDs. Through this experience, she became interested in reducing the burden or occurrence among young people.
“When you go to the doctor to be screened or tested for something, you provide certain information. The clinician then gives you resources to help you manage your health, on the one hand,” Dr. Adebayo said. “On the other hand, if it turns out that you’re sick and you get tested, you get treatment to get better. It’s the same thing with STDs. When people get tested, they get resources to reduce their risk, hopefully. And at the same time, if they are sick, they get treated so that they don’t transmit the infection to other people and further increase the burden.”
Dr. Adebayo focuses on self-initiation. Self-initiation is when someone decides to get tested without a health care provider telling them to do so. Self-initiation involves the knowledge of testing, the knowledge of risk, the knowledge of available resources, but, more importantly, the self-efficacy to combine all these and take the step to get tested.
“With young people, they’re not sick, so they’re not going to the doctor every time,” Dr. Adebayo said. “They tend to go when it’s bad. Because of that, we keep missing this huge group of people who are at risk or are infected because STDs can be asymptomatic. What can we do or put in place to make this almost a part of their lifestyle and make it easy enough or straightforward enough to the point that they get tested themselves?"