Sex Ed: The next lesson on your college syllabus.

By Karli Burghoff, London Douglas, Laraib Hashmi and Janel Strong

College students have enough to deal with. Homework and tests are the short term struggles, while loan debt and career paths are long term struggles.

The University of Houston is one of the most sexually active campuses in America (top 25).
With the resources on campus such as pharmacy and the Student Health Center,
there is no reason for sexual partners to not empower themselves to be sexually healthy individuals.

While these issues certainly plague students across all college campuses, another major issue lingers in the bloodstreams of young adults. STD’s, or Sexually Transmitted Diseases, are running rampant on college campuses. These diseases not only have an impact on one’s short term social life, they can have long lasting effects on ones’ body that can eventually lead to death.

Sex is fun. STD’s.. not so much.

Since these diseases are a threat to most college students, we figured that they would have an increased knowledge about not only the three most prevalent STD’s, but also have the knowledge to be aware of the ways to practice safe sex.

We. Were. Wrong.

We interviewed students around the University of Houston- Main campus and found out that students do not know the threat, the prevalence, or even the names of the most dangerous and common sexually transmitted diseases.

A 2013 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that while 27% of the sexually active population are between the ages of 15–24, they make up 50% of the 20 million new STI cases each year.

In our interviews with students, they were asked “What are the three most common sexually transmitted diseases on a college campus?”

The most common answer;

“Ummm…”

After the students rubbed their chins and looked off into space, they gave guesses of disease names that they probably remembered from high school health class.

It seemed that not a lot of people knew the answer right away, with one student even saying “What else is there?” after his guesses.

These interactions shed light that students need to empower themselves and become more educated on the diseases threatening their lives, especially in college where sexual activity is booming.

To answer the looming question that we proposed, the top three most common STD’s are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HPV.

Students guesses included HIV, Aids, Crabs, Genital Warts, Herpes, and Cervical Cancer, a few correctly (and mostly by luck) guessed Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, and nobody even mentioned HPV.

Sigh.

While Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are two out of three of them, HIV is not as it only shows reported figures of 47,500 reported cases in ages 13–24 from the same study.

Chlamydia affects 2.9 million young Americans, while HPV and Gonorrhea affect about 7.1 million and 574,000 respectively.

Students can name some of the big ones, but based off our interviews, they don’t know most information, but there is a solution.

Inside the Campus Recreational Center at the University of Houston, students are provided with the resources and tools to be a healthier and happier young adult:

Enter The Wellness Center.

Students have personnel and staff who can help them get the answers they need before having unprotected intercourse. The Wellness Center also provides pamphlets with information about different STD’s, how to practice safe sex, other booklets of priceless words of sex-wisdom and free condoms. Free. Emphasis on the “free.” It’s also a wonderful place to study and relax with your friends, employees, or even your current sexual partner (it takes two to tango, people).

Students can schedule appointments with a counselor if they have any questions or inquiries, not only about sex, but about physical and mental health.

Along with the fact-filled pamphlets, free condoms and helpful guidance on a healthy sex-life, the Wellness Center hosts another beacon of knowledge, a Nurse Practitioner at the Medical School Clinic, Virginia Miller.

Dr. Miller agrees that students are not well educated on the risks of contracting an STD, and need to be more informed, whether it be through classes or just a simple visit to the clinic.

Simple. Walk in. Get checked. Feel good.

The clinic is the place to go if you’ve had unprotected sex and are concerned, experiencing symptoms, or just want more information.

On the topic of who comes in more for these checkups, from her perspective, the women are being a bit more responsible than then men.

“Women I feel, get more paranoid, which is good. They are scared something might have happened or is going to happen, so they take precautions.”

But like we mentioned earlier, it takes two to tango.

Both men and women need to put their adult pants back on and take their sexual health into consideration.

Dr. Ryan Steward of theHouston Fertility Institute had some additional thoughts about how young adults can empower themselves….

How often should you get checked? Going to the clinic every time you make a little love is inconvenient, right?

Miller disagrees.
“Anybody who’s having sex, whether with a condom or not, I’m going to check, because a condom can break, fall off, or not have it. It doesn’t take much.”

Would you rather deal with a 30 minute checkup or a lifetime of taking meds and having uncomfortable conversations with the cutie you have a crush on?

Empower yourself with sexual health.