Prevention through knowledge: Avoid sexual infections

They are a topic of conversation that is avoided at all costs and secretly Googled while you are alone, hoping no one looks at your recent activity. No matter how much they are blacklisted in life, they are all around us. One in four college students has an STD.

“Champaign area is about as twice as high for chlamydia and gonorrhea … versus the rest of the state of Illinois,” said Kai Tao, the vice president of clinical operations at Planned Parenthood.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are often diagnosed together but not in all cases. With the amount of sexually transmitted infections in this area, it is important to stay educated about the facts.

“Being knowledgeable about STDs is a great way to prevent them,” said Kimberly Rice, sexual health educator at McKinley.

A communal question about STDs is what to call them. There has been debate on whether to refer to them as sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections. STD is most common, but they are in fact infections. STI is also less denouncing than labeling it a disease.

One major common misconception is you can catch an STD from using a public toilet. This is completely false. You may be able to catch an STD from sharing a towel, however.

“Trichomoniasis can be transmitted through towels but it isn’t common,” Jessica Ost, president of Sexual Health Peers, said.

There are many easy ways to avoid getting an STD. Using condoms is one way to prevent contracting one.

It is advised that you do not to take Asher Roth’s advice of “when it comes to condoms put two on.”

“Only use one condom (at a time). It’s a big myth that using two condoms at once is double protection while in actuality that is increasing your chances for an STD. The friction can cause them to break, which will not prevent fluids from transferring.” Ost said.

Another helpful piece of advice to avoid STDs is to know your partner’s sexual history.

“Just because you are in a monogamous relationship now, doesn’t mean that your partner was in one before or that your partner has always used protection,” Ost said.

Getting tested is another way to be safe and to continuously make sure you are healthy. It is advised you should be tested annually unless you show signs of symptoms or have multiple partners, then it should be more.

“About 50 percent of men (with STDs) will have no symptoms and women can be higher … 80 percent (of people with an STD) don’t know they have it,” Tao said.

Those sobering statistics are a good reason to use the University’s health centers as a resource. McKinley Health Center offers testing, diagnoses, treatment and has a staff member available to answer any questions.