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STD awareness important for college students
When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), now sometimes called STIs (sexually transmitted infections) many students have a similar thought process: “it won’t happen to me.”
The most common STDs found on college campuses in general are chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes and genital warts.
Student health services at Quinnipiac would not comment on any statistics or percentages relating to the sexually transmitted diseases found at Quinnipiac University saying that it would be a breach of student confidentiality. Nevertheless, it is a fact that anyone who is sexually active has the possibility of getting an STD.
STDs are infections that can be contracted through any sexual contact, ranging from vaginal, anal or oral sex. There are many different STDs. Most STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can be treated and cured, while others, such as HIV, are life threatening.
Although the only way to completely eliminate the risk of getting an STD is to stay abstinent, there are some ways to prevent them while being sexually active.
In a relationship, both partners should be tested for STDs before becoming sexually active. The procedure is short and painless, a simple blood sample can reveal a lot.
There is a poster at Quinnipiac’s health services that reads, “Then I realized, I’m not just kissing a frog… I’m kissing every frog he’s ever kissed”. Trusting your partner and being able to talk to your partner about getting tested for STDs can put less strain on your relationship and also be a big prevention factor when it comes to STDs.
Another method of prevention is to use condoms. Condoms are not 100 percent effective, but they are the best available source, not only for protection from STDs but also protection against pregnancy. P. Sheila Burke, who is the assistant director of Health Services at Quinnipiac, agrees. “A condom is a very effective tool to prevent pregnancy and STDs,” she said.
Contrary to popular belief, birth control does not protect against STDs, it only prevents pregnancy.
Another way to stay healthy is to get an annual test, which can be done by any physician. Males and females should consider getting tested if they are sexually active. Burke says that knowing about your body is important.
“Most women starting at age 18 should visit a gynecologist, even if they are not sexually active.”
Burke says its not always easy to figure out if you are infected with an STD. “Some STDs have visual symptoms, others do not,” she said. “That is why it is always good to get a checkup if you are sexually active”
Burke also explains that good health and awareness should be everyone’s main focus.
“Everyone has to be aware” she said, “because of intermingling there is always a possibility of the outcome of an STD.”
Although STDs are thought to be transmitted only through sexual activity, Burke says that it may not be the only way.
“I do not want to make anyone afraid, but skin to skin contact still holds a slight possibility of contracting an STD.” She said. “It is also possible to use a condom and do everything correctly and still have a slight chance of an STD transmission”
If infected, treatment should be sought immediately.
“We here at the health center are always here to help,” Burke said. “We will try to answer any question that is asked and everything stays confidential.”
Sexually Transmitted disease is a serious issue, but Burke says when it comes down to it, it is all about taking care of yourself, knowing what you are doing and staying healthy. “Students need to use good judgment and stay in good health,” she said.
For more information on STDs visit the American Social Health Association at www.ashastd.org. There are also hotlines such as CDC National STD Hotline, (800) 227-8922, that will answer any questions.