by Nykeema Radway
We’ve all heard about them but we don’t talk about them. The topic isn’t included in our girl’s day out and may not be the best topic of conversation at the barbershop. But Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) are rapidly increasing in the United States.
Results from the annual STD surveillance report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis – the three most commonly reported STIs in the nation – increased between 2014 and 2015, reaching an all-time high.
In 2015, FIU Student Health Services saw similar trends with an increase in chlamydia/gonorrhea on campus.
Mariela Gabaroni, associate director of Health Promotion Services, explained STI’s pose multiple risks to an individual, some that are greater than others and can impact a person’s life forever. Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia may result in infertility, she said, as well as other complications from other STI’s throughout a person’s life such as outbreaks, costly medication regimens, reduced quality of life or premature death.
Results from the annual CDC report also showed that young people are most at risk for contracting STI’s. Those aged 15 to 24 years old accounted for nearly two-thirds of last year’s chlamydia diagnoses and half of the gonorrhea diagnoses.
Nadine Matas, senior, said she was surprised by the report because there are a lot of resources on a college campus for which students have access. She acknowledges that people may not take the time to learn about prevention.
“When it does come up, we joke about it with our friends but we don’t talk about it seriously,” said Richard Cuadra, a junior. “People deal with it on their own.”
There could be many reasons why the rates of STI’s have reached record highs, specifically for teens and young adults.
“It could be possibly due to lack of knowledge or education,” said Ebonie Parris, manager of Health Promotion Services. “It could also be a superman complex, the thought that ‘it could never happen to me.’”
FIU offers a variety of prevention services free for students including:
- sexual health consultations offered at the Healthy Living Program five days a week
- HIV testing offered at MMC at the Healthy Living Program three times per week and also every Wednesday through the FIU Bridge Program at AHC 5
- free safer sex materials, like condoms and dental dams at the Healthy Living program at both MMC and BBC
For a nominal fee, students can get STI testing at the Student Health Center. In addition, Healthy Living, in collaboration with Residential Life, has recently placed eight new condom dispensers throughout laundry rooms in the residence halls. In University Apartments, the dispenser is located in Building A.
When asked about ways students can participate in safe sex, Matas answered: “Take precaution. If you want to be with someone, have that conversation. Unfortunately, we live in a time where having an STI is not out of the ordinary.”
“Use protection during every single sexual encounter,” Gabaroni said. “Take advantage of the free services and materials made available to you. Don’t be afraid to take control of your own health.”