By Jourdan Bazley
Blog Content Contributor
Sex is yours. How, where, why or why not, all up to you. Sex is a freedom that we all have, so it should not feel like an uncontrollable risk. When it comes to sexual encounters, sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are some of most important things to be aware of. According to the American Sexual Health Association, “about half of all new STDs/STIs in 2000 occurred among youth ages 15 to 24.7”. This places the risk right between you and me. STIs do not discriminate between race, sexual preference, age or any other thing that you believe can prevent it from reaching you. Educating yourself and being aware of why and how you can protect yourself from STIs is a valuable lesson that you need to learn.
Why is it important to know your status? You may have heard that STIs are itchy, red or very visible. False. STIs can in fact be present in your body and show no signs or symptoms that you can visibly see. Because of this fact, knowing your health status, as well as your partner’s, will save you from further transmission and offer a piece of mind during sex. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “estimates that youth ages 15-24 make up just over one quarter of the sexually active population, but account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year.” In result, STIs are closer than you think.
Today in the United States, HPV, or Human Papillomavirus Infection, is the most common STI. Texas State University also shares this statistic, having HPV as the most common STI, followed by chlamydia. These two STIs are among many others, and often are asymptomatic, meaning you can’t tell that someone has the infection just from looking at them. With this said, getting tested and being aware of both you and your partner’s status is very important.
“If you are not getting tested regularly, then you can be delaying the time between your exposure and treatment,” said Arlene Cornejo, health profession specialist. “This can lead to infertility and the potential to spread it to other people,” which is a contributing reason to why getting tested is so very important.
Texas State University is well suited with professionals that provide valuable information for students in regard to safe sex and treatment for STIs.
“It can feel uncomfortable or awkward asking about STI status,” Cornejo said. “Even if it is, it doesn’t mean that you can’t ask. I would encourage people to ask when the last time that their partner was tested or what their method of protection is.”
Something that may not be fully understood is how the transmission of STIs happens. STIs can be spread through body fluids that are passed between two people, but can also be contracted through skin-to-skin contact. Rubbing genital areas or surrounding areas can still act as a method for transmission of STIs like herpes or genital warts. Though wearing a condom is a great form of protection, it does not block you from all forms of transmission, so knowing your partner’s status is just as important as knowing yours.
At the Texas State University Student Health Center, testing for STIs and HIV is provided daily for students and faculty. HIV testing does not require an appointment and is provided 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Condoms can also be purchased at the Student Health Center Pharmacy. You can also visit the Health Center website to set up an appointment.
Be smart about your sex life, it is all yours.
Photo by Jourdan Bazley.