A Scary Amount Of People Are Not Getting STD Tests, Our New Survey Finds

by Faye Brennan
Kylah Benes-Trapp/Shutterstock

Raise your hand if your high school sex ed class sucked.

Raise that hand high AF if it was taught by your gym teacher, you don't remember one thing you learned or you didn't even have a sex ed class.

Millennials know our education system totally FAILED at teaching us about sex, sexual health, STDs and pleasure. But just how much did it fail? Well, that's starting to become more clear.

new global study found that most students (including those in the US) think their sex ed programs were outdated, negative, heterosexist and out-of-touch with the fact that many students were already having sex.

The study also showed that teachers were often visibly embarrassed, and students hesitated to ask questions out of a fear of looking inexperienced or slutty.

And now, we're seeing STDs on the rise. (Coincidence?) In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the US (2.5 times higher than it was 20 years before) and 350,000 cases of gonorrhea (a 10 percent increase since 2010).

What's worse is that these infections are quickly becoming antibiotic-resistant superbugs, a problem that the UN just warned is "one of the biggest threats to global health."

This is, without a doubt, some scary shit. And it makes a lot of us uncomfortable, which is why we don't want to think about it or talk about it.

Or get tested, it seems.

Elite Daily recently surveyed 240 millennials to find out whether or not we're all taking care of our sexual health. As our infographic below shows, we kind of are, but let's just say, there's A LOT of room for improvement.

Kylah Benes-Trapp/Alexia LaFata

Our survey found that, while 59 percent of men and 68 percent of women have gotten an STD test within the past two years, a whopping 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women have NEVER received one, and 14 percent of men and 7 percent of women "can't remember" the last time they had one.


"As an OB/GYN, it is terrifying to me that so many young men and women aren't being regularly tested for STIs," says Katharine O'Connell White, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of OB/GYN at Boston University, in response to our findings.

"I worry that thoughts and fears about testing — Will the doc judge me for asking for it? Will my partner think I don't trust them? I don't have any symptoms, so I'm probably fine — are keeping people from the healthcare they need."

These fears might be the reasons why millennials are mainly getting tested when we "think we have something" (Hey, guys.) or if it's time for our annual checkup. (Lookin' at you, ladies.)

They might also be the reasons why our first move is to GOOGLE OUR SYMPTOMS rather than just scheduling a doc appointment or asking a friend or parent if we should be concerned with what's going on down below. (Because the wonderful land of WebMD is just SO reassuring that the rash you have isn't going to kill you, RIGHT?)

But it's not our fault that we have these fears.

"We use sex to sell everything from coffee to cars, but then teach adolescents that sexuality is something negative that they will need to grapple with to control," says Debra Hauser, president of Advocates for Youth.

"If we were to teach young people that sexuality is a normal, healthy part of being human and that as they age into older adolescence, developing intimate relationships is a normal and important part of growing up, then it would be much easier to teach them that getting tested for STDs is a normal part of sexual health care."

Oh, really? Well then, that's exactly what we're going to do.

Over the next two weeks, we'll be sharing more results from our eye-opening survey and schooling you on all of the CORRECT info you need to know about your own sexual health.

But this ain't no bullshit high school class — so expect super real, relatable and informative stories from people YOUR age who ARE having sex, and not only like it, but LOVE it and want to KEEP doing it disease-free.

Update: Read more from our Sex ED series.