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Effectively raising STD awareness within a community typically requires cultural sensitivity, the use of several different communication mediums, and the availability of health care professionals and peer educators. These professionals assist community members in developing an understanding of health practices that can prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It is also helpful for organizations that wish to increase STD awareness to approach local hospitals, clinics, and community centers to coordinate efforts and to provide community members with comprehensive resources for the prevention and treatment of these diseases.
When beginning an STD awareness program, it is important to be cognizant of cultural standards in developing an outreach program. In some cultures, such as urban centers in the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Western Europe, people may be far more at ease with frank discussion of sexuality and sexual health issues. In other countries, such discussions may make people uncomfortable and may be experienced by residents as disrespectful of their cultural standards. In such locations, international health care workers should work closely with local health care and social work professionals to develop an approach that does not make people uncomfortable but that also provides accurate information to those who need it.
Not everybody processes information in the same way, so it is a good idea to provide STD information in more than one communication medium. For example, some people may best learn about these diseases by reading a well-produced, factual website dedicated to STD awareness. In other cases, people may prefer to read about STDs in a pamphlet or booklet given to them by their doctor or in an article in a local newspaper. Individuals responsible for promoting awareness in their communities may also wish to approach local TV and radio stations about presenting programs on STD prevention, as some people prefer to receive their information through TV or radio rather than in writing. Schools should also be provided with various types of materials for inclusion in health classes.
Although raising STD awareness is a good thing, it is also important that the campaign include practical information on how to obtain STD diagnosis and treatment. By working with local health care institutions and professionals, educators can connect community members with appropriate services that are already operating within the community. Once community members have access to reliable testing and treatment services, the goals of the STD awareness campaign may have a better chance of realization.
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