By the age of 25, one in two sexually active people will have had a sexually transmitted infection and may not know it. In the United States, there are 20 million new STIs each year, and individuals aged 15-24 account for half of them. That’s more than all the people in the entire state of Michigan!
These are alarming statistics, but they aren’t meant to scare you. They are meant to make you think about your sexual health. If you’re having sex, take your health into your own hands. Be smart. Get educated. Be proactive.
For STI prevention, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend abstinence, vaccination, reducing the number of sexual partners, mutual monogamy and using condoms correctly and consistently.
Abstinence is the best way to prevent yourself from getting an STI, but for many college-aged students, it is not a realistic option. If you are going to engage in sexual activity, be smart and reduce your risk of contracting an STI by following a few safe steps:
- Get Vaccinated. Both men and women can get vaccinated against Human Papillomavirus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. The Campus Health Center can administer these to you right here on campus, so you can easily fit it into your busy schedule.
- Use Condoms. Using condoms correctly and consistently is vital to preventing contracting an STI. CHC tries to make purchasing condoms as affordable as possible for Wayne State students. You can affordably join the Condom Club by purchasing a 50-condom punch card from the front desk for only $5. You can redeem up to 10 condoms at a time and there are a variety of colors, sizes, flavors, textures, as well as female condoms available.
- Reduce Partners/Mutual Monogamy. To reduce your risk of contracting an STI, consider reducing the number of partners you have and be in a relationship where you are mutually monogamous. The fewer partners you have contact with, the fewer chances you’ll have to contract an STI. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you should still be proactive about your own sexual health. Getting vaccinated and using condoms are smart decisions even in a committed, monogamous relationship.
When you are engaging in sexual activity, you are always at risk for contracting an STI. There are many STIs that are curable, but detection is the first step. Most STIs do not exhibit symptoms in the people carrying them, so you should routinely get tested for STIs. If you are having symptoms of discharge, itching, or pain, it is important to make an appointment with CHC or your primary care provider as soon as possible.
CHC offers HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, which may be free of charge if certain criteria are met, which can vary, but a good rule of thumb is if you are sexually active and age 24 and under, you may qualify. You can see if you qualify or make an appointment by calling 313-577-5041.
Whether you visit CHC or your primary care provider, the important thing is that you take your sexual health into your own hands. Know that it is okay to practice abstinence. Know that if you are sexually active, there are several ways to reduce your risk of contracting STIs. CHC is on campus to help all students get the knowledge and care you need to be healthy.
To learn more, please visit the following websites.