Southern’s health center advises students to get tested for STDs
Adrianna Rochester – Special to the Southern News
At SCSU, chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STDs found on campus, followed by HPV and Herpes, according to Emily Rosenthal, the coordinator of the wellness center.
According to the Health Center’s STD Statistics for the university’s Fall 2014 Semester, 226 students were tested during the “Get Yourself Tested.” The testing is done every month and allows students to come in without appointments. Of the 226 students tested in the fall, 172 were females and 54 were males. Of those, 29 students tested positive for chlamydia, including 22 females and seven males; and three tested positive for gonorrhea, including two females and one male.
“Half of all sexually active people in the U.S will get an STD by the age of 25,” according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Rosenthal said, there has been an increase in positive test results over the past few years. However, she said this can be because more people have been coming in to get tested, which means you are more likely to get a higher rate of positive test results.
On the other hand, she also said this means these individuals who have tested positive can seek treatment for their symptoms.
“The more people that come to the center for testing the better. The faster they can identify the disease an individual has, the faster they can help treat them and help stop the spread of STDs,” said Rosenthal.
The health center does provide free treatment for bacterial STDs, said Rosenthal, viral STDs are trickier to treat on campus, but the wellness and health center works with clinics who help to treat viral STDs.
Rosenthal said promoting safe sex practices, safe sex education and doing outreach programs is one of the major priorities of the wellness center. This school year the wellness center was able to install condom dispensers in the utility rooms of Wilkinson Hall and in Brownell Hall.
Since installing the dispensers, about 3,500 condoms have been used during the fall and spring semester, she said.
She also said, because the health center isn’t always open for student to obtain free condoms from them, she’s hoping to have condom dispensers in all the resident halls and in the student center in the near future.
Bria Moore, public health major, said anyone is susceptible to getting an STD.
“It’s all about your thought process and how you perceive STDs on campus. Some look at it as an invisible myth you hear about and never think ‘this could be me’ until something goes wrong,” said Moore.
Some people classify STDs as a good or bad. A “good STD” would be a bacterial STD because they’re curable with antibiotics, like chlamydia. While a “bad STD” are the viral infections she said. Once someone has a viral STD they have to think about how they’re going to survive, Moore said.
Based on Moore’s experience with working with people who have contracted a STD, she said for them it’s a wakeup call. When it comes to condom use there is a misconception. People think non-name brand condoms aren’t trustworthy. However, she said a lifestyle condom is going to work the same way a Trojan or Magnum condom, if used correctly.
Titilayo Vanriel, a nursing and public health major, said she thinks females are more concerned with protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancies, than protecting themselves from contracting a STD.
“They think because they are on birth control it is OK to have sex without a condom, when it’s not. Yes, it will protect against unwanted pregnancy, but you’re still putting yourself at risk to getting a STD,” she said.
Vanriel also said because many STDs are silent it is hard to trace who you received the infection from, so educating yourself as well as getting tested yearly is very important.
Brigitte Stiles, the associate director of the health center is in charge of administering STD testing at the facility. She said, the number of students who came to get tested during the fall semester is low compared to the total number of students living on campus.
More females come in for testing than males. She said one reasoning for this is because with STDs such as chlamydia males are less symptomatic than females. A male can have the disease and show symptoms and then unknowingly pass it onto their partner.
Stiles stresses the need for students to get tested because the longer a person goes untreated, the more people that is at risk of getting infected. Depending on how risky an individual’s sexual behavior is determines how often they should get tested.
For example, she said everyone should be tested once a year and you should also get tested before you engage in sex with a new partner.
During her experience with administering STD testing here on campus, she said she “hasn’t ever told anyone that they are HIV positive.”
At the same time, she said contracting multiple STDs can lead to long term health problems. For example contracting multiple chlamydial infections can cause fertility problems.
Stiles said she is a huge advocate for getting tested. When any patient who comes to see her, she always offers the option to get tested. It is a quick and confidential process and once you get tested you will know your results within a week.