When asked how students can tell their mates they have a sexually transmitted disease, Interim Director of the Counseling Center Harold Ford suggested simply starting with “I have to tell you something.”
“It’s better to deal with the hardest thing first,” he said. “Put everything out on the table.”
STDs are becoming more widespread on campus, but how important is it to tell your significant other?
According to the FAMU Student Health Services Statistical Data, Chlamydia was the highest reported STD in 2003 with about 170 cases. There were also 50 reported cases of Gonorrhea and one case of Syphilis last year. In 2002, 100 cases of Chlamydia, 34 Gonorrhea cases and three cases of Syphilis were reported.
Shankar A. Shetty, the director of Student Health Services, said it is imperative that couples seek treatment together.
“If students are in a relationship, they should get treated at the same time,” Shetty said. “Otherwise, they’ll play a blaming game that will only further harm the relationship.”
Rosalind Williams, a senior from Marianna, said her romantic relationships would have to reach a certain level before she would disclose information that was too personal. She said she would want to be at a point where the relationship would be able to withstand anything, even the shock of a STD.
Although Williams has never had to deal with any situation such as this, hypothetically she said she would be reluctant at first.
“You can’t tell him immediately,” said the 22-year-old real estate and finance student. “I would wait six months to a year, or at least until I was comfortable.”
Ford said students should observe how the relationship is developing.
“Relationships are based on honesty and openness,” said Ford. “So if the relationship looks like it’s developing into something long-term and someone has a disease, it is more important to be upfront.”
If the disease was fatal, Williams said the guilt of not telling her mate would hold her hostage.
“My conscience would eat me up,” she said. “Especially if you could die from it.”
Shetty said there it is a felony to be HIV positive and knowingly have intercourse without informing the partner.
He also said students believe they are protected from STDs with condoms.
“Condoms do not offer 100 percent protection,” Shetty said. “It might rupture.”
Williams said telling the partner about a disease in the beginning of the relationship is essential and his or her reaction will determine the sincerity of the commitment.
“If a person can’t accept that you have an STD, then you haven’t lost anything,” Ford said. “Because he or she wasn’t in your corner to begin with.”
Contact Russell Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.