Although the “It can’t happen to me” ideology is probably as old as civilization, there are a number of reasons why people would be well served in taking steps to avoid, or at least to detect, STDs. Abstinence or a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner that is STD free are very safe strategies, but for those not wishing to take these options, getting tested can avoid some possibly life-changing, or life threatening, eventualities.
The distressing problem of sexually transmitted diseases in American colleges and universities is anything but a recent development. The pre-Counter Culture classic from the 1960s, Been Down So Long Looks Like Up to Me, had the protagonist’s development of an STD as a serious plot element. At that time though, it was still pushing the envelope as a suitable subject matter for literature and film.
And even as sexual matters became commonly depicted among media sources it was rarely with any negative consequences. Sexual activity outside of marriage became more common, with widely available contraception and a change in attitudes toward sexual encounters, having multiple partners over the course of a life became the norm.
Today there are approximately 20 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed every year. Alarmingly, early half of these new cases originate among 15-24-year-olds.
Even though the risk of developing these diseases should be common knowledge by the time you reach college age, factors such as social pressure, the rush to make the final push to “adulthood,” and binge-drinking can make so-called ‘common knowledge’ quickly dim in importance.
Time to Get Tested, Get Treated, & Get Real
There are actually more sexually transmitted diseases out there than some may be aware of. The two main classes of STDs are Bacterial Infections and Viral Infections. Following this link will provide information about the most common varieties of both types, about their symptoms (if they have any), and about available treatments. Some important factors to keep in mind are that these diseases can be contracted by vaginal, anal, and oral sex while some can be contracted with mere skin to skin contact.
Many of these maladies can be treated with antibiotics; here are just a few of the more common STDs to be aware of:
- Chlamydia can be cured with one dose of antibiotics, but can lead to infertility if left untreated.
- Herpes cannot be cured and makes the person carrying it more likely to develop HIV.
- Syphilis can be treated with antibiotics but the sores common with it can increase the susceptibility to HIV. Late-stage syphilis can lead to dementia, blindness, and death.
During your years on a university campus, even if it might kill the mood, exercising some due diligence in your sex life may be the safest course of action. Avoiding situations where your judgment might be impaired, though sometimes difficult, may seriously reduce at-risk behaviors.
Getting tested is not an irrational step, and neither is inquiring into a prospective partner’s sexual history; these smart decisions should by no means be off the table. If you think you may at all be at risk, find an STD testing center near you or have yourself tested at a campus medical facility.