For some students, college presents opportunities for increased sexual activity. It also increases the chance of getting sexually transmitted diseases.
Monique Potter, a health educator with FAMU Student Health Services, said, “There are an abundance of STD cases occurring at the clinic. It’s the No. 1 illness we see.”
STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, venereal warts, syphilis and AIDS are highly contagious, Potter said. Symptoms of many STDs may include abnormal discharge, irritation of the genital area, or pain during sexual intercourse or while urinating.
Dale Harrison, an intervention specialist at the Leon County Health Department, said, “STDs are among the most common infections known.”
Harrison explained that infectious agents, microscopic bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi transmit STDs. They are also transmitted by single-celled organisms, called protozoa, which thrive in warm moist environments in the body, such as the genital area, mouth and throat.
Most STDs, he said, spread during sexual intercourse, whether vaginal or anal, but other forms of sexual contact, such as oral sex, can also spread the disease.
Potter said that many factors contribute to the rise of STDs on campus.”Many students are coming to college and are unable to responsibly handle the newfound freedom they have,” Potter said. “Some students are having unprotected sex because of self-esteem issues.”
According to a recent poll in American Health magazine, the majority of college students who contract sexually transmitted diseases did so because they did not use a condom. Whatever the cause, “If you are having unprotected sex, you are asking to die,” Potter said. “Unprotected sex today is a death sentence.”
Rachael Farmer, a 20-year-old, junior elementary education student from Pensacola said, “At FAMU it seems like the sexual attitudes of the majority of the student body are becoming more and more reckless.”
But not everyone is choosing to engage in casual, unprotected sex. Jonathon Hines, a 19-year-old, sophomore computer engineering student from Cleveland said, “Although many students are choosing to partake in spontaneous and anonymous sexual experiences, it’s not for me.”
“STDs can have very painful, long-term consequences as well as immediate health problems,” Harrison said.
STDs can cause birth defects, blindness, bone deformities, brain damage, cancer, heart disease, mental retardation, infertility, other abnormalities of the reproductive system and even death.