On Sept. 26, the CDC reported a rise in sexually transmitted diseases for the fourth consecutive year with record-breaking number of cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia.
Abby King, nurse coordinator at Lafene Health Center, said she doesn’t believe the on-campus health center has treated an abnormal amount of cases in recent years.
“The causes of STDs has remained the same: intercourse with an infected person,” Staci Robinett, women’s health practitioner at Lafene, said. “However, I think that more people are having unprotected intercourse because they think that STDs won’t happen to them or that getting one won’t be a huge problem.”
Robinett said the recent uptick in STD cases on a national scale could be a lack of comprehensive sex education. Furthermore, Robinett said people might not be aware of where to obtain low-cost or fee condoms.
“Some have never had to use [a condom] before and may not be informed how,” Robinett said. “They could also be relying on their partner to be aware of how to use one properly.”
STD screenings, which are available at Lafene, are recommended annually for women or whenever they encounter a new sexual partner. Women do not typically show external symptoms when they contract STDs like syphilis or gonorrhea.
While there isn’t a calendar recommendation for how often men should be screened, Robinett said, they should be screened if they start to display abnormal symptoms, such as discharge or bumps.
“We do have more positive cases in men, but that is because they typically only come in when they show symptoms; women come in when they feel they need it,” Robinett said. “We also screen for STDs during well woman exams, which cover a lot more, such as breast exams.”
King said that Lafene does see many women come in to be proactive about their health. The screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia is a noninvasive swab of the area and can be completed by a patient in the bathroom. For other cases, such as syphilis and HIV, a blood test is required.
“You get better peace of mind if you get tested,” Kelli Potter, women’s health nurse at Lafene, said. “It is better to know for sure than to wonder if you have one [than] to not to go to a screening because you are scared of the results.”
For those worried about protection against STDs, Robinett reminds students that condoms are free at Lafene and are located in the pharmacy, exam rooms and bathrooms. They are also the best form of contraception that protects against STDs.