Sexually-transmitted diseases are sensitive topics, and patients who have them are often too shy to come out publicly. In the hopes of getting a medical diagnosis, they would rather turn to social media, post graphic images of their genitals, and just wait for a diagnosis.

STD Diagnosis on Social Media

A report from the Journal of the American Medical Association has found this trend to be alarming. The blame falls mainly on the high cost of health care plus the degree of sensitivity of the topic. Sick people then turned to Reddit, Crowdsource Google, and other social media platforms.

The embarrassment that is associated with having STD is also one of the reasons why this trend went wild in 2019. According to one of the doctors from the University of California, San Diego, who worked on the study, Dr. Eric Leas, people can easily post photos online without necessarily revealing their identity. people post pictures of genitals on reddit, social media platforms people post pictures of genitals on reddit, social media platforms Photo: JerzyGorecki - Pixabay

Worried Doctors

While this may sound find with patients, medical practitioners have another opinion. The cases of patients suffering from STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis increased in 2018. Because of this, their primary worry is that there may be a lot of patients out there suffering from these diseases and yet are not receiving the right treatment.

Dr. Davey Smith, a co-author of the study, said that the patients, whether they don’t see a doctor because of lack of access or because of shame, miss the opportunity of getting professional help. He highlighted that this kind of help is one that could save a life.

Shocking Subreddits

The group of researchers found that in Subreddits, there are many threads that tackle the STD problem. One subreddit, which caught their attention, was the r/STD community. This has 10,000 members, some of whom are physicians.

Dr. Smith and the rest of the researchers, after an analysis of the subreddit’s activities, found that a total of 16,979 threads discussed the subject. The data came from November 2010 until February 2019.

The posts ranged from explicit descriptions of their private parts, up to posting the actual pictures for a diagnosis. As per the researchers, these individuals posting on social media may be embarrassed to discuss their illness in a one on one setting with their doctors. Others may be looking for a way to find support with others who are in the same boat.