College Life and STDs

I remember the excitement of a college student and living away at school.  The sense of independence and freedom of living somewhere other than your parent’s house.  Your college years can be some of the most memorable years of your life.

This is when you meet new people from different parts of the state or country, join a Greek organization or other club, and experience the college parties.  This is the time in your life when you decide what career you want to pursue. You start to take classes that will help educate you for your real world job.  As your prepare for your future and experience the joys of being a college student, it is important to also understand the importance of being responsible for yourself and others.

At college, there are many opportunities to have sexual relationships.  As you meet new people from going to parties, attending class, or even from living in the same dorm, there is a chance of establishing a relationship or having a casual encounter.  Plus, when you are living away from home and have your own place, there are more opportunities to engage in sexual activities.  If you are going to engage in sexual activity, it is essential to make the smart choice and practice safe sex.  If you decide to be careless, that choice can negatively affect yourself and your partner.

According to a recent news article on, the online site of The Pacer, statistics show a 196 percent increase in sexually transmitted diseases, which were diagnosed by the Student Health and Counseling Services on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus.  The STDs that were represented in the statistics are chlamydia and gonorrhea. The percentage increase was based on comparing the STD cases on the UTM campus from July 2010-July 2011 and STD cases from July 2011-July 2012.  A recent study conducted by Lifestyles Condoms showed that only a quarter of young adults from ages 18-24 years old use condoms “some of the time.”
It is imperative that sexually active young adults understand the serious consequences to their health and well being that having unprotected sex can cause.  Although chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable sexually transmitted diseases, if an infected individual does not get tested, he or she may not know that they have been infected at all.  If an STD goes untreated this can cause permanent health damage such as infertility.  There are also a number of incurable STDs such as HIV and Herpes, which also can affect the rest of your life.
Even if you have sexual contact with one person, that person’s past partners could have infected him or he with an STD.  Regardless of how clean or disease free an individual may seem physically, that does not mean that he or she has not been infected.  When someone becomes infected, he or she may not show any signs or symptoms.  It is important to get tested for STDs with every new partner and use a condom during sex.  If you have oral or anal sex, it is also important to use a condom.  There are products such as dental dams that act as a barrier between the mouth and vagina/anus that help protect against STDs.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that there is no rule on who should be responsible for having a condom.  Do not assume that it is the male or female’s responsibility to have a condom on hand.  If you think you are going to have sex, be prepares and keep fresh condoms where they are accessible.  Do not store your condoms in your wallet or back pocket, where the wrapping can possibly get ripped or worn. It is important to be responsible about your health and also respect your partner’s health.  There are a multitude of resources to educate you on STDs and the importance of safe sex.  Be a positive role model to your friends.  If you know he or she is not having safe sex, encourage them to make the smart decision and wear a condom.  Let’s help prevent the spread and increase in sexually transmitted diseases.
Source for UTM statistics:  Sheila Scott,
Source for Lifestyles Survey: Kelly House,

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