TAMIKA ALEXANDER — Staff Reporter
Southern’s Wellness Center has brochures and information about sexually transmitted diseases and safer sex practices along with a basket of condoms set out in its lobby for students. The Wellness Center offers services to its students to promote safe sex awareness.
February is National Condom Month, and SCSU has put on programs such as “No Glove, No Love” and “Get Yourself Tested; Bring a Date,” to get the student body involved in safer sex practices.
“Every semester we offer a variety of programs,” said Cyrena Duncan, Wellness Center graduate intern.
The “No Glove, No Love” program taught students the correct steps to putting on a condom. “Get Yourself Tested,” taught awareness, according to Duncan.
On Feb. 14, 2012, in light of Valentine’s Day, the Wellness Center held “Get Yourself Tested; Bring a Date.” The program offered sexually transmitted disease testing and encouraged students to bring a date to get tested also.
“The purpose,” Duncan said, “was to encourage couples to get tested before making the decision to become intimate.”
Besides educational programs, the SCSU Wellness Center also offers health services to students.
“We offer STI and HIV testing for students and it’s free of charge for all students,” said Duncan. “And we offer it year-round.”
With its programs and services, the Wellness Center also wants to help students understand the potential risks and outcomes associated with becoming sexually active with someone, according to Brigitte Stiles, R.N., B.S., associate director of health services for wellness program.
“When deciding to have sex with someone, a person should first contemplate whether that person would be supportive if a pregnancy or STI occurs after the fact,” she said.
Picking a partner and deciding to have sex with him or her involves many different aspects.
“We want students to understand the emotional aspect of being intimate along with the physical aspect,” said Duncan. “We try to explore the negative and the positive.”
According to Stiles, a one-night stand can result in years of regret. Sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent among young people in today’s society, and the first step to taking precautions is being educated about the subject. Also, communication is the start to becoming better protected.
“Communication is very important before becoming intimate,” said Duncan.
Along with communication, college students should become more sexually responsible to stay protected and healthy.
According to a pamphlet in the Wellness Center, issued by ETR Associates, being sexually responsible involves staying informed, thinking, getting to know your body and emotions, communicating with your partner and getting friendly with condoms.
“STDs do primarily affect young people ages 15–24, accounting for nearly half of new STDs, and young people make up 25 percent of our population, ” said Salina Cranor, information specialist at the Center for Disease Control.
The most common sexually transmitted infection on SCSU’s campus is chlamydia, and gonorrhea is not far behind, according to Duncan.
“Case reports have been increasing steadily over the past 20 years, and in 2010, 1.3 million chlamydia cases were reported. While the increase is due to expanded screening efforts, and not to an actual increase in the number of people with chlamydia, a majority of infections still go undiagnosed,” according to the CDC.
In order to be better protected and lower the number of STI cases, people must communicate with their partners, use protection and stay informed, said Stiles.