Article Originally Published by Octavius Williams on North Texas Daily
Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily
According to a report in Denton Record-Chronicle, Denton is a generally healthy city, but sexually transmitted infection rates have continued to increase, pushing Denton County Public Health to bolster their services to prevent and combat STIs. The most common STI among college age students is HPV, an infection that 80 percent of sexually active people will contract in their lives, according to the American Sexual Health Association.
Denton has been going in the opposite direction when it comes to combating STI rates, despite all the resources available to its residents. If UNT students were more proactive in their sexual health, that rate could go down.
Sex education was haphazardly taught to some of us all the way back in elementary school — if our parents signed the waiver. We went through it again in middle school and maybe again in high school. It’s easy to assume that with some form of sex ed in school and all the information available online, people are adequately prepared to engage in safe sex. But we shouldn’t rely on others to care about our sexual health, we should take it into our own hands.
We hear horror stories about people being exposed to STIs, we know the statistics and we know the things we can do to prevent contracting them. But the rates continue to increase rather than decrease.
The fact that most sexually transmitted infections are treatable should not be an excuse to go unprotected or not act fast. People live with some infections for a while without knowing that they’ve been exposed to it, and sometimes they can be fatal. If you knew you had the flu, you wouldn’t just wait for it to go away. You could be with someone who doesn’t even know that they have something.
UNT offers walk-in STI testing at the price of $74 dollars, according to the Student Health and Wellness Center. This test offers screening for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV and syphilis. Students are encouraged to use the service whether they’ve experienced symptoms or not — it is recommended to get tested after an encounter with a new sexual partner or after having unprotected sex, according to ASHA.
It was found that young people account for more than half of new STI diagnoses and only 12 percent of them had been tested in the last year. The first preventative step is to remove all of the stigma surrounding STIs and go get tested.
If more people talked about their firsthand experiences, it would become less taboo and people wouldn’t be as uncomfortable getting tested. The thought of actually having contracted something can be a big deterrent — having an STI is associated with being “dirty,” like the person is bad or did something wrong. In reality, staying aware of sexual health is no different than staying aware of dental health, and the “dirty/clean” artifice is just another contributor to stigma and shame regarding STIs.
With the American Sexual Health Association reporting that one in two people will contract an STI by the time they’re 25, college students should be vigilant and always practice safe sex. When we’re comfortable in the fact that something probably won’t happen, we don’t take the precautions necessary to prevent it. No one thinks it will happen to them, but it does — as evident by the fact that there is a major STI problem in our own backyard.
Featured Illustration: Chelsea Tolin
Source: North Texas Daily