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Embracing this Moment: Is Covid-19 Creating New Opportunities to Improve Sexual Health in 2021?

Former Kenan undergraduate student Ali Davis recently wrote an article about sexual health in the time of COVID-19.

“A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my friend about her date. When I asked if there was a kiss involved, she replied, ‘Okay I did…but only because he showed me a picture of his negative Covid test during the date.’ Justifying a kiss with a COVID-19 test made me chuckle, and then it made me think: has it become normal to talk about when you last got tested on a date? We already know that COVID-19 has changed dating — I can speak to it firsthand. You most likely meet over the internet, and then FaceTime or Zoom a couple of times to ensure this person is “worth” getting out of sweatpants for. Finally, you have that in-person date and spend half the time wondering who is going to break the awkward six-foot space first.

It’s abundantly clear that the pandemic is changing dating culture in two ways. Firstly, it is creating abnormally long amounts of time to engage in conversations. Of course, this can be a blessing and a curse. Newfound time may lead to more profound and intimate conversations, allowing people to become more comfortable before meeting in-person. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the downside — it can leave incompatible duos with unbearable moments of uncomfortable silence. Then there’s the second shift: talking about testing. For those that are COVID-conservative, you probably ask a date if they’ve been tested before meeting up in person. Others may panic the next morning and ask about the issue after the fact. No matter where you lay in the spectrum, the pandemic has forced people to think and talk more about medical testing. Personal health has been somewhat of a taboo topic in casual dating of the past few decades, but it appears as if this is changing as COVID-19 persists.

Why do these conversations have to stop at COVID-19? If sexual partners are more comfortable with one another, and they’re already talking about testing, why couldn’t they talk more about sexual health? Now feels like the perfect moment to encourage young adults to have more transparent conversations with their sexual partners about STDs, partner testing, and even consent. Although one conversation may not seem significant, a slow but steady change in attitudes amongst young people has the potential to significantly improve the health of millions of Americans.”

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Ali works as an analyst at Decode_M, an insights and strategy firm based in NYC. In this role, she uses a diverse mix of datasets to help companies overcome complex challenges and accelerate their momentum. Ali graduated from Duke with a bachelors degree in Psychology and Global Health. As a senior, Ali was a part of the the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct Bass Connections – a Kenan led initiative.

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