Vanessa Banks* had unprotected sex. When the sophomore marketing major had vaginal bleeding due to intercourse, she went to Health Services for an examination, where she was also tested for the gonorrhea and chlamydia.
The doctor used a pap smear-like method to obtain a specimen. Luckily, Banks tested negative for both sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
“Because contraceptives and testing are out there we [young people] have inflated views that everyone is safe,” said Banks.
She admits, though, this view is unsafe to hold.
According to the American Social Health Association two-thirds of all STDs occur in people 25 years old or younger, and a hub for these STDs is the college campus.
Temple University Health Educator Kristin Swoszowski-Tran said there are three classes of STDs including bacterial, viral and parasitic. Bacterial STDs include chlamydia, chancroid, and gonorrhea, viral STDs include HIV/AIDS and parasitic STDs include crabs and scabies.
Swoszowski-Tran said the most widespread infection of college campuses is chlamydia.
“What’s spooky about chlamydia is that about 80 percent of women show no symptoms,” she commented.
A common misconception is that having an annual pap smear will test for all diseases. While an annual pelvic exam includes a test for gonorrhea and chlamydia, specific cultures must be taken for other infections.
“There is no magic STD test,” she said.
Pleased with the level of awareness surrounding STDs and protection, Swoszowski-Tran believes, “it is getting easier and more acceptable to talk about condoms.”
She cautioned, though, “aside from abstinence, condoms are the most effective tools that we have in helping to prevent STDs, but they do not cover the entire body.”
It is possible to contract herpes and genital warts through skin-to-skin contact in areas that condoms cannot protect.
Bino*, a sophomore finance major, said he had unprotected sex and was tested for hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.
“The risk is not worth the natural feeling,” he said.
Bino encourages everyone to use protection, especially for “one-nighters” because “no matter how genuine or nice a person might seem you never know what he or she could be carrying.”
Health Services offers condoms and other forms of protection at low costs so “throw a rubber on,” urged Bino.
*For confidentiality purposes, names have been changed