Most college students only see a doctor when something is wrong, but for diseases like Chlamydia, one may never know if he or she has the disease because it is asymptomatic in women and displays very mild symptoms in men.
According to Dr. Shankar Shetty, director of student health services at Florida A&M University, Chlamydia is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease on this campus.
“Chlamydia is the top STD now. It was gonorrhea, but now it’s Chlamydia, and we see it a lot,” Shetty said. In 2005, there were 85 students diagnosed with Chlamydia on the campus of Florida A&M University, Shetty said.
Infections of Chlamydia are not just limited to the genital area, Shetty said. If a person has oral sex with another person who has Chlamydia, he or she may contract the disease in the throat.
“It’s rare, but I’ve seen a case of Chlamydia in the throat,” Shetty said. Even if a person rubbed his or her infected genitals and touched another person in the eye, that person could possibly contract Chlamydia in the eye. This infection can be transmitted to any place on the body where there is open flesh, Shetty said.
Many students claim to “know their bodies,” so they know when something is wrong, but Erika Dortch, a 21-year-old junior architecture student form Jacksonville, admitted that she does not know it all.
“I’m pretty educated about all the different types of STDs that are out there, but I don’t know the symptoms for all of them,” Dortch said.
While some students are not completely aware of all aspects of their sexual health, there are others who make it their job to stay informed.
Thurston Owen, 22, a senior political science student from Philadelphia, said he has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Owen admitted that his constant need to know that he is healthy borders on hypochondria. “I’m messed up. I need to see a doctor every hour,” Owen said.
On a campus of about 11,000 students, Shetty only sees about 20 students a year. In order for students to be informed about Chlamydia or any other STDs, Shetty recommends receiving an annual physical, where sexually transmitted disease tests are given.
Shetty said while Chlamydia is treatable, it can become a long-term health problem because those with untreated Chlamydia could end up with pelvic infections or even become sterile.To prevent such diseases as Chlamydia, the use of condoms is key according to Shetty. He said it is also important for a person to know his or her partner.
There is no way to look at a person and tell if he or she is “clean,” so it is imperative that any person who is sexually active or has engaged in any sexual contact be tested for Chlamydia as well as other STDs.
Chlamydia has very little to no symptoms at all. The only way for a person to know his or her status is to get tested.