How COVID-19 is similar to STDs

There are a few similarities to the two diseases

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

n some ways, COVID-19 is kind of like STDs (sexually transmitted diseases, what were called venereal diseases in the 70s),” said a dear friend of mine several months ago. She explained that in the case of both the coronavirus and, say, syphilis, if we get it or think we’ve got it, we should tell others so they can avoid us and/or seek treatment if they choose. Which is true and I agree.

She also noted that some people seem to be ashamed about having coronavirus (and why they would be ashamed boggles my brain). Apparently this was the case in the first known incidence in our small midwestern town. A well-known man, a frequent patron of the local liquor establishments (i.e., bars), tested positive but didn’t seem to want to let everyone know. He actually denied it, according to my friend. Which in my mind was selfish and thoughtless to those who are in contact with him regularly. As it were, he and his family are fine.

To cut the man in question some slack, maybe it’s because he felt like maybe having the virus meant he was “dirty and unclean” like was the popular perception when I was younger (many, many moons ago) and learned about STDs in health class. I never got why people thought this way, though as I recall the prevailing notion back then about gonorrhea et. al., was that people who contracted them were slutty and slept around a lot.

This may have been true for some people but not everyone who got herpes or whatever. However. the fact is that in order to get an STD — just like getting the coronavirus — means you only need to be in contact with one person who is infected to get it yourself. “One, uno, less than two” (to quote a cartoon character from a long-ago show) person. That is all.

Though my friend’s analogy is indeed a good one, I also see COVID-19 as being a lot like cancer. What I mean is, I’m pretty sure that by now many of us either have it (like myself) or know people who have had it previously; or know people who have died (like my mom, other relatives, and a handful of friends) from it or know people who have lost loved ones/friends from it. It’s everywhere and can happen to anyone. I know a number of people who have had it (and are still alive) and have a friend who recently lost her mother to the virus.

(And yes, I know there’s the fact that the two diseases differ because cancer occurs within — quite possibly due to environmental and other factors — and the virus is airborne, but that’s neither here nor there for purposes of this).

The last I heard, the U.S. is now the country with the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate. Many states, including mine, are now seeing a rapid surge in cases (and deaths). People are now gathering indoors, and/or because of “COVID fatigue” aren’t being careful (I saw evidence of this yesterday in non-masked faces in public places, and felt sad) and thus the rapid spread.

It occurred to me the other day that in the beginning, a lot of people were being ultra-careful. But that has gone down the tubes and now we are all reaping the consequences of people’s careless behaviors that lead to infection.

The community in which I live has a fair number of infections, some of whom I know and many I don’t, I just know of them. Numbers are growing exponentially all over the state — as well as the country. As a result, in my state, our governor put us on a “temporary shutdown” until at least Dec. 18 (though I’m betting it will be longer) of bars, restaurants (two of the common transmission settings) and gyms.

From then came the collective groans and complaints from everyone who is angered that they can no longer go out to eat (though they know darn well there’s the takeout option) or — cue sounds of sucking in air — can’t go to a local drinking establishment and socialize … which something that people like to do, while they blame the virus for their wanting to go ou and drink so much. Well, and then this infectious disease has run rampant, because of people’s thirst.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure many of my whining neighbors connect the dots here between rising infection rates and watering holes, AKA bars.

Interestingly enough, sometimes I’ve wondered whether people I know who have coronavirus want it to be public knowledge. Well, I guess it should be, if those people want to do the right thing. I was recently in the company of friends (a couple) in which the man — who happens to work, along with his wife, at our local liquor store — tested positive. Thankfully he told people, as I heard someone talk about it in public the other day, so it’s not a secret. So this man did the right thing, isn’t ashamed to have COVID-19, and hopefully he and his family are going to be all right.

hough it’s true there are (as my aforementioned dear friend, who is both a cancer and COVID survivor said) similarities between the coronavirus and sexually transmitted diseases, don’t let shame be one of them. Please help protect others and let people know if you do contract the virus. Stay out of public places when sick and adhere to safety measures when you do go out. And remember that this, too, shall pass!! Do well, stay well.

Photo by Hyttalo Souza on Unsplash

Experienced professional writer/freelancer and former newspaper reporter-turned-online writer/blogger. Thinker. “Old soul”, young hippie, empath.

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