Can you get an STD from a toilet seat? No, but that's what 1 in 3 Americans believe
The findings, based on a survey of 2,000 sexually active Americans, reveals that people are misinformed about health
More than a third of Americans incorrectly believe one can get a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) from a public toilet seat, even as 24% believe a person could get an STD from sharing a glass of water with someone who’s infected, according to new research.
The findings, based on a survey of 2,000 sexually-active Americans, also points to a dangerous trend, which shows that people are increasingly relying on the internet for information on healthcare. And they are even diagnosing themselves erroneously based on their searches online.
Commissioned by LetsGetChecked and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found that 81% of respondents believed themselves to be knowledgeable about sexual health, but the results painted an entirely different picture.
While 34% respondents think that STD can be transmitted by a public toilet seat, 22% believe that an “incidental physical contact” is enough to pass an STD.
Some of this misinformation might be the result of a lack of sexual education in school. “Taking responsibility for your sexual health is so important, not just for you, but for your partner(s),” says Dr Robert Mordkin, chief medical officer of LetsGetChecked. "Better education is needed around STDs and the serious, long-term consequences that may occur if they are left untreated. In the absence of sufficient sex education, people need to work to educate themselves and attend regular sexual health screenings.”
The lack of sex education meant that some of the participants failed in accurately identifying some of the common diseases. About 48% of them recognized herpes and 42% recognized chlamydia. Some of them identified names of the disease that did not exist: 28% identified “claphytis” while 21% did the same for “strenedia” as STDs.
Of the participants, 26% incorrectly thought two condoms doubles the protection against STDs, while 36% wrongly believed that a condom shielded them against all STDs. Nearly a quarter of the participants thought that they could tell if someone had an STD just by looking at them.
The experts saw similar trends of misinformation regarding STD tests too. Three in 10 incorrectly believed they do not need to be tested for STDs unless they have symptoms. The analysis shows 48% of the respondents did not know how often they should get themselves tested for an STD and 19% of them said they have never been tested.
Among the 53% of the participants who have not been tested in the last year, 23% said they are uncomfortable being tested, and 24% worried about what the results might show.
It is not just about sexual health, respondents were wrong about healthcare as well: 68% believed they were knowledgeable about the body, but the survey showed that this was not the case.
According to the survey, 65% of respondents have turned to the internet to self-diagnose themselves and about 43% who have looked up their symptoms online and ended up overestimating their symptoms. This trend, say the experts, has been the cause of worry for about 74% of those who have used Google to diagnose their symptoms.
The survey also points out that 26% of them don't have a primary care physician and six in ten actively avoid visiting the doctor. This, according to the survey, is due in part to the cost of medical care, doctor(s) not believing them when they talk about symptoms and not having time to go to an appointment.
"This survey shows us that a significant number of people are living with on-going, negative day-to-day symptoms that they either don't understand or misdiagnose," says Mordkin. He explains, "While educating yourself can be a good thing, it is important to have objective testing."