South Carolina is ranked as the 7th highest in the nation for rates of sexually transmitted diseases. In 2015, South Carolina had some of the highest rates of HIV in the country.
It’s obvious: South Carolina has an STD problem. But in the current political climate, what can be done?
In South Carolina, sex-ed in public schools is limited. Due to political interference in the classroom, school-based sexual health education, the best short and long term way to prevent risky sexual behaviors, is stripped of almost all its power. Teachers in schools must teach abstinence until marriage because of the political agendas of legislators with no public health background. And while teachers are allowed to discuss a few contraceptive choices, they are only discussed in the context of future family planning after marriage. Condoms cannot be distributed.
Teachers in the school system are even prohibited from discussing any type of relationship that is not heterosexual. South Carolina is one of only seven states with a “don’t say gay” law regarding sexual health education.
Young people in South Carolina are denied access to vital health information resulting in an inability to protect against and prevent the spread of STDs. Importantly, for many young people in the Queer community, their sexuality is also stigmatized - a stigma codified by law and taught in the classroom.
Moreover, South Carolina is one of only two states that doesn’t permit the use of Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT). EPT enables a medical provider to give prescriptions or medications that treat STDs to patients to take to their partners without first examining these partners. The vast majority of the country has adopted EPT as best practice but the South Carolina legislature remains stuck in the past. Providing patients with chlamydia or gonorrhea medication for their partner’s use has been shown to be more effective at increasing treatment rates and decreasing reinfection rates. EPT laws lend themselves well to reducing the stigma of talking to a partner about STDs.
While EPT in South Carolina is still up in the air, Planned Parenthood health centers offer STD education, testing, and treatment, and the caring and non-judgmental staff can provide information and resources to help prevent STDs. Planned Parenthood educators work in innovative, evidence-based ways to educate young people and their parents alike on topics ranging from STD prevention and treatment to stigma, consent, and pleasure.
And Planned Parenthood is a resource available to all members of our community.
Planned Parenthood not only provides a safe space for education and care, but works to advocate for more comprehensive sex education and the use of Expedited Partner Therapy. Through work with elected officials, organizing, and patient advocacy, Planned Parenthood is endeavoring to improve the rankings and also the lives of all South Carolinians.
What can you do to support Planned Parenthood’s mission and efforts to provide STD education and care?
Contact your South Carolina Senate and House Representatives and let them know that you support Planned Parenthood and the use of EPT to treat partners of patients.
Get Involved with Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic to help us with advocacy efforts around a range of important reproductive policy issues
- Know your status - get tested for STDs at one of our welcoming and nonjudgmental health centers