College—an exciting time for many. From football games to new friends to partying, it’s definitely an environment where many feel free and invincible. Students are exploring and partaking in alcohol, recreational drugs, and sexual activity. Although it may seem fun and exciting, this freedom and new adventure comes with an increase in the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The reality is that there is an overwhelming stigma around STDs, and the lack of knowledge surrounding it may be the answer as to why. With only 24 states requiring schools to teach sexual education, and most centered around an abstinence-based focus, our youth aren’t getting the sufficient information they need to combat sex and STDs.
Many students entering college avoid the STD taboo altogether, but with the right information and tools, the subject of STDs on college campuses might not be as scary.
1. About 1 in 4 college students have an STD/STI
Fact: 25% of college students have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Young adults ages 15-24 account for more than half of new STD diagnoses annually—although they represent only 25% of the sexually active population. The top 3 most common STDs on college campuses are Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Chlamydia, and HSV-2 Genital Herpes. Many STDs are curable and all are treatable or managed.
2. Most people experience no noticeable symptoms
The most common symptom of an STD is no symptom. About 80% of people that contract an STD won’t know it because they won’t show any signs or symptoms. If you are sexually active, the only way to be sure is to get tested regularly.
3. Getting tested is not as scary as it seems
Although the thought of sitting in the waiting room at the clinic and then having to tell a stranger your sexual history seems frightening, with new technology, STD testing isn’t as bad as you think. You can now get tested for STDs in the comfort of your dorm/apartment with the Biem app. Understanding the different STD tests can also help to calm nerves. Being prepared before getting tested may help ease the nerves as well. There are two different ways of getting tested: a blood sample (tests for Herpes, HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis) or a urine sample (tests for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia).
4. Having an STD does not define you
After contracting an STD, many people may think their sexual life has come to an abrupt halt. However, this is not the case. Remember that 1 in 2 sexually active young people contract an STD/STI by the age of 25. With medication to treat or manage the effects of STDs, it is very possible to lead a normal sex life after contracting an STD.
Unfortunately, the stigma around sexually transmitted diseases is still a heavily prominent issue that sucks us into thinking that people who have an STD are “dirty”. With the proper education on sex and STDs, we as a collective society can end this stigma and reduce the spread of STDs. College is an exciting time to revel in exploration—don’t let the fear ruin your experience!