Friday, May 25, 2018

The long walk of shame: Tips on how to avoid STD’s in college


By: Annie Scalambrino 
        One in every four college students contracts an STD during their time at school.  That really makes you think doesn’t it?  If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what would, especially since we go to Trinity College…and we all know how the hook up scene works here. 
       In honor of STD awareness month, I decided that I would give a brief run down of some of the different STDs signs and symptoms, since no one is running to the Health Center to read their pamphlets. It has always shocked me by how little information people actually know about sexually transmitted diseases.  Think for a minute and tell me the signs and symptoms of Trichomoniasis.  That’s what I thought. You haven’t even heard of it. 
This lack of knowledge is most likely due to the fact that our school systems generally teach sex education from 5th grade until 9th grade, and this is a time in which we may not be able to relate to the material.  By the time it does apply to us, we are too lazy and possibly embarrassed to look it up, and most importantly, we think that contracting an STD could never happen to us.  Admit it, you probably thought you couldn’t get one. Yet the harsh reality is that this is the prime time for us to be contracting these diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 19 million new STDs occur each year, almost half among people the ages of 15-24. Guess what?  That’s us.  
A sexually transmitted disease is also known as a sexually transmitted infection which is why STD and STI are used interchangeably. Technically, infections are only called diseases when they cause symptoms, and many of these infections may not cause symptoms, but people do not know the difference so it is common for people to use the term STDs even when there are no symptoms.  
So here is the STD breakdown, including some common ones that you probably wouldn’t know the most information about.  There are two types of STDs, bacterial and viral.  Viral STDs cannot be cured, and bacterial ones respond to antibiotics.  
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, and most people who have it do not experience symptoms, therefore they may go untreated for a long period of time while spreading the disease to others. It is the most commonly reported STD in America, but is very easy to cure. It is contracted through oral, vaginal, or anal contact and can be contracted by touching your eyes after touching an infected partners “downstairs.”  Symptoms are painful urination, discharge, and a sore throat.  The most common treatments are a single dose of azithromycin or a week’s dose of doxyxycline.  
Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection and symptoms in men and women may be different.  It is contracted through oral, vaginal or anal contact.  Men may have painful urination and discharge, whereas women may experience no symptoms at all.  If gone untreated it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.  Treatment can be tricky because there are many forms of drug-resistant types of Gonorrhea but some examples of antibiotics are Penicillin and Sulfa drugs.
Trichomoniasis is another scary one because many people cannot tell they are infected, as only 30 percent of people will develop symptoms, but women are more likely than men to experience symptoms. Men and women may have some discharge, itching and irritation and burning after urination.  It is contracted during sex and is possible to still spread the infection when using a condom.  
The top three most common STDs for college students are:
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – The cause of genital warts and cancer. 
2. Chlamydia
3. Genital Herpes – Almost one in five students is infected, is spread as easily as chlamydia, but is not curable. 
STDs are especially scary because people may show no symptoms and  they think that they are completely fine.  In addition, if you are showing symptoms, it is hard to admit to yourself that you may have something, and even harder to bring yourself to get tested.  Everyone always tells you to be “safe,” but being safe is much more than using a condom and this is something that many people have never thought of.  Using a condom may prevent the spread of disease during sex, but it is not 100 percent effective as there is a lot that happens before, during and after sex.  In addition, the act of oral sex spreads these diseases just as easily. 
Here are some STD facts:
-More than 50 percent of people will get an STD at some point in their life.
-Many women have STDs without ever knowing it — 70 percent of women with Chlamydia and up to 50 percent with Gonorrhea never get symptoms.
-20 percent of all Americans over age 12 test positive for genital herpes virus in their blood.
-The CDC estimates that there are approximately 2.8 million new cases of Chlamydia in the United States each year, and more than half of new cases remain undiagnosed and unreported.
-Over 80 percent of women will be exposed to HPV.
I understand that when people throw a bunch of statistics at you, you don’t believe them or again, you think that they could never apply to you, but this stuff is serious since it directly affects other people and some of these diseases cannot be cured.  This is our time for fun and games, but we must remember that if we are going to participate, it is very easy to get tested and everyone should be tested once a year if not more.   

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