Relationships between perceived STD-related stigma, STD-related shame and STD screening among a household sample of adolescents

Shayna D. Cunningham, Deanna L. Kerrigan, Jacky M. Jennings, Jonathan M. Ellen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

CONTEXT: Important barriers to STD testing may include individuals' perceptions of STD-related stigma (negative societal attitudes toward STD infection) and expectations of STD-related shame (negative personal feelings) that would result from a positive STD test. Obtaining a clear understanding of the relationship between STD-related stigma, STD-related shame and STD testing may help inform programs and policies aimed at reducing STD transmission. METHODS: Measures derived from previously published scales were used to assess perceived STD-related stigma, anticipated STD-related shame and receipt of an STD test in the past year in an urban, household sample of 594 exually active 15-24-year-olds interviewed in 2004-2007. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between recent STD testing and perceived stigma, shame and other participant characteristics. RESULTS: Thirty-seven percent of males and 70% of females reporting having had an STD test in the past year; the largest proportions of tests (42% among males and 59% among females) had occurred in the context of a routine health care visit, not because adolescents had had disease symptoms or were concerned about exposure to infection. For both males and females, the level of STD-related stigma was negatively associated with the odds of having been tested (odds ratio, 0.5 for each). STD-related shame was not related to STD testing. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents who view STDs as stigmatizing have a reduced likelihood of being screened, but it is unclear whether this relationship refl ects their care seeking or providers' practice of off ering STD screening at a routine health visit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-230
Number of pages6
JournalPerspectives on sexual and reproductive health
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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