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Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in College: What You Need to Know

 



Let's dive into a topic that's important for your health but often gets overlooked: sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So it's not the most glamorous topic, but it's very relevant, especially when you're navigating relationships and hookups during these college years.


The Lowdown on STIs

STIs are infections that can spread through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, or oral). They're pretty common, especially among young adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around half of all new STIs in the U.S. occur in people aged 15 to 24.


Why Are College Students at Risk?

College life can come with newfound freedom and experiences, including sexual exploration. Factors like multiple partners, inconsistent condom use, and alcohol/drug use can increase your risk of getting STIs. Plus, many students might not have had comprehensive sex education in high school, leaving us unsure about how to protect ourselves.


Common STIs to Watch Out For

Some STIs you should be aware of include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, HPV (human papillomavirus), and syphilis. These infections can have serious consequences if not treated, like infertility or certain cancers.  We’ll talk about each one at a later date.


How to Stay Safe

Okay, enough with the scare tactics—let's talk prevention:


1.     Use Protection: Always, always use condoms or dental dams during any kind of sexual activity. This significantly reduces the risk of getting or spreading STIs.


2.     Get Tested: It's not awkward; it's responsible. Regular STI testing, especially if you're sexually active with new partners, is key. Many college health centers offer confidential testing for free or at low cost.


3.     Communicate Openly: Talk to your partner(s) about STIs and your sexual health. It's okay to ask if they've been tested and to share your own status.


4.     Limit Alcohol and Drug Use: Substance use can impair judgment, leading to riskier sexual behavior. Stay in control and make informed decisions.


Where to Get Help

Most college campuses have resources to support sexual health:


·       Health Centers: Visit your campus health center for confidential STI testing,

contraception, and advice.


·       Counseling Services: Don't hesitate to reach out for support or information about sexual health and relationships.




Final Thoughts

Taking care of your sexual health is a vital part of adulting. Don't be embarrassed to prioritize your well-being. Educate yourself, protect yourself, and look out for each other. Together, we can reduce the spread of STIs and create a healthier college community.

Stay safe out there!


References:

1.     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2019. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2019/default.htm

2.     Buhi, E. R., & Marhefka, S. L. (2010). Risk Behaviors of African American College Students: The Effect of HIV Knowledge, Motivation, and Behavioral Skills. Journal of Black Psychology. doi:10.1177/0095798410361919

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