2017 saw many stories hit the news circuit that directly related to your sexual health. Some stories held a higher level of impact than others. As we wrap up the year, we’d like to take a look back at the year’s eight biggest sexual health news stories. Today, we’re looking at numbers 8 through 5.
8. Usher Herpes Lawsuit
This past year, several news outlets reported that Usher settled a lawsuit with a woman who allegedly contracted herpes from him. Then, three new accusers claim they were also put at risk by Usher after he failed to inform them that he had the virus. The accusers include two women and one man. One accuser, Quantasia Sharpton, went public with her claims.
Sharpton stated she met Usher “a few years ago” at a concert. She said she was selected to go backstage before the show, and later, Usher met up with her and had sex with her, without warning her that he had herpes. Details of the previously settled lawsuit over Usher’s apparent herpes infection were leaked in July by several news and gossip websites. Court documents indicated that Usher had been diagnosed with herpes in 2009.
The lawsuit was dismissed in late 2017. This news story did bring to light the importance of sharing your sexual history with new partners in order to protect both them and yourself.
7. AETNA Releases HIV Status of Patients
According to reports over the summer, AETNA allegedly sent letters to over 12,000 customers that revealed their HIV status to anyone who could view their mail. Many customers have sought out legal help because their living situations have been compromised by the revelation of their sexual health.
According to a press release sent out by the Legal Action Center, Aetna’s mailed letters included instructions for obtaining prescriptions and were sent to customers who were taking HIV medications as well as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. This information was clearly visible through a window on the envelopes. The group claimed this was a violation of HIPAA guidelines that are meant to protect a patient’s private health information. The group alleges that so far, patients in 23 different states and the District of Columbia have claimed to have received these letters and contacted attorneys.
*This lawsuit is still pending as we approach the end of the year.
6. More People Living Into Old Age with HIV
There was a time when you didn’t live very long after being diagnosed with HIV. Today, treatments and medicines have come so far that many people are finding themselves living decades after their diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 26% of people living with HIV/AIDS are over the age of 55. While living longer with the infection is a huge triumph of medicine, it also brings more challenges as well.
According to the CDC, one of the largest challenges for older people in the United States when it comes to HIV is that diagnosis tends to occur much later in the course of the infection. This results in starting treatment later than normal which can, in turn, lead to more significant immune-system damage. Late diagnosis can occur because many health care providers do not always test older people for HIV infection. Also, older people may not consider themselves to be at risk of HIV infection or mistake HIV symptoms for those of normal aging. The CDC says that sexually active older people are just as at-risk for HIV infection as younger people.
5. Hep A Vaccine Shortage
At a time when outbreaks of hepatitis A are common throughout the United States, the CDC has announced a shortage in hepatitis A vaccines. As small outbreaks appear in various states, the demand for hep A vaccines has grown. In 2017, however, a shortage of the hepatitis A vaccine left many public health officials concerned.
“Current supply is not sufficient to support demand for vaccine,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told press outlets in a prepared statement.
Manufacturers have since managed to increase the supply of the vaccine although it still remains low. Anyone who suspects they may have been exposed to hepatitis A should seek medical attention right away.
Remember that the best way to keep on top of your sexual health is to have STD testing performed. Many times, STDs will not present any signs or symptoms so testing can be the only way to detect them properly.