Let’s talk about sex – more specifically about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
STD rates among college students in the U.S. are shocking. One in four college students today has some kind of STD? That is 25 percent. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people ages 15-24 account for nearly half of the 20 million new cases of STDs each year.
Living in a campus dorm and no longer under the direct influence of your parents or guardians gives you liberating feelings, and meeting lots of new friends is very exciting. Don’t forget how many opportunities this gives you to party. Drinking alcohol often lowers your inhibitions and can cause you to forget to use protection when engaging in sexual intercourse.
The college environment can put many students in high-risk situations, including having unprotected sex.
Factors contributing to increased risk of STDs during college include having many short-term sexual partnerships, and failing to use protection consistently and correctly.
How many of these students contracted and/or spread STDs among other college students? Florence County reported 700 cases of HIV per 100,000 people in the year 2014. There were also 1005 cases of chlamydia in 2014, 317 cases of gonorrhea and 20 cases of syphilis.
Many students who contract and/ or spread STDs among other college students are unaware of their condition. STDs often have no obvious signs or physical symptoms, especially in the beginning, so screenings are very important. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, in particular, are easily diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, but can be severe when left untreated. Both can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, permanent internal scarring, chronic pain and potentially life-threatening tubal pregnancy.
However, many college students don’t go to emergency departments until their symptoms are severe, but by then they have already spread the disease.
The most effective way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sexual activity. Another goal is to use a condom correctly and with every sexual act. Preventing most STDs is a lot easier than treating them.
STD testing and counseling, along with condoms, are provided at FMU in Student Health Services. If you’re worried your parents might find out if you get checked, all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow minors to consent to their own health services related to STDs or requires that providers notify parents that their child has received STD services.
It is common for young people to feel embarrassed about going into a health clinic on campus to get tested. There is information about STDs and off-campus of health department locations available online.
Just remember to abstain when possible and routinely use protection. Sexual health is a personal and sometimes difficult topic to talk about. Don’t be afraid to seek advice and help from health professionals. They are here to keep you healthy and happy. Remember, the only thing you want to bring home from college is a degree.