The test you don’t want to miss


By Leah Pearlman, Opinons columnist

College is a place for learning, and some of this will happen outside of the classroom: in the bedroom, on the football field or wherever else you kids are doing it these days.

If you are waking up in different beds on the regular and frequently take “walks of shame,” I can assume you are sexually active. I should also be able to assume you are regularly getting checked for STDs, but sadly, this is not the case for most college students. This is not okay.

April is STD Awareness Month, RBand I am strongly urging all sexually active students to make an appointment at the McKinley Health Center. It is free under your tuition for the University, and the entire process takes less than an hour.

You may be thinking: “Leah, I know how to use a condom. I’m not a moron.”

Yes, the school does give us free condoms, but directions aren’t included. We have all been through sex education in high school and know we are supposed to wear them, but you’re still at risk for contracting an STD even if you’ve only ever had sex with one person. And you can get them from any kind of sex as well.

The National College Health Assessment Survey found only 54 percent of college students use condoms during sex consistently, and that merely 4 percent of them use condoms during oral sex. 

Additionally, with the University’s rampant party culture, it is safe to assume a lot of sexual activity is going on under the influence of drugs and alcohol. With this in mind, it is easy to understand how mistakes can be made when people aren’t functioning at their normal levels. They may forget a condom altogether, forget to put it on or even put it on the wrong way. (Hey, It happens!) reports that over 45 percent of college freshman who have been binge drinking and under the influence of alcohol fail to consider the use of contraceptives when engaging in sex. 

The key to avoiding STDs is strong communication skills when voicing your concerns about sex with a new partner. And the physical act of sex should not be viewed as less intimidating than having to talk about it with your partner. If it feels that way, I would say you aren’t ready for sex at all.

A whopping 60 percent of students say they would still have sex even if their partners refused to wear a condom.RB This is a case where people need to stand up for themselves, their own safety and their well-being. Sex can be super fun, but so can roller coasters — you have to wear your seat belt at Six Flags, and you have to talk about safety with your partner when it comes to sex.

A big problem is that every student is under the false idea that they would never get an STD themselves. “Sure, other people may get STDs all the time, but no, nothing will happen to me,” a hypothetical University student might say.

But, according to Stanford University’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, one in four college students have an STD. 

Remember, unless you practice safe sex: getting checked between sex partners, speaking with your sex partners about their sexual or STD history and using protection every single time, you are not exempt from this statistic.

Students may believe that diseases and infections are visible, but this isn’t true. Chlamydia, for example, shows little to no symptoms but can do some serious damage as time goes on. However, chlamydia is easily detected in an STD test and is even curable with simple medicine.

If you are sexually active, get tested if you want to stay healthy. Make the appointment today and go with your friends. It is better to be safe than sorry at a time in your life where you should be focusing on schoolwork and fun.

Leah is a freshman in Media.

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