As organizations, individuals and many of our school systems strive to combat the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, we must all aim high. College students or young adults are the most affected by STDs that if not cared for in a correct and timely manner could lead to HIV/AIDS infections.
“The number one sexually transmitted disease among college students is Chlamydia,” said Teaondra Ford, a resident nurse at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.
In addition, Ford said in the emergency department there are many herpes cases among young adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that chlamydia is the most prevalent STD among college students alongside genital herpes and HPV, also known as Human Papilloma Virus. It is estimated that 90 percent of the estimated 45 to 60 million Americans with genital herpes are not aware of their condition.
The CDC reported that most college students are quick to assume STD-like symptoms to being a normal part of their growing bodies.
“Abstinence is the best protection, but college students who do not choose this option have to resort to other methods to stay safe,” said Justina Smith, a senior nursing student. “College students need to get tested and use protective measures whether it is a female or male condom.”
Shanalee Gallimore, 24, a junior biology pre-med student from West Palm Beach, said she believes most college students are not of mind to come forward for help with a possible STD infection.
“When symptoms present themselves some are afraid that health professionals and their peers will look down upon them, but it is wise to get tested because certain STDs can mess up your reproductive organs,” Gallimore said.
Because of the constant rise in these bacterial and viral diseases, having annual tests will allow sexually active students a healthy and educated deal of freedom.
Ford said many of the tests are painless, quick and worth knowing. Some STD examinations may include a physical assessment of the genital area, a swab of the tissue around the genital area or simple blood or urine tests.
According to the Leon County Health Department, the county has the highest rate of STDs in the state for all diseases reported including gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. The three-year rates put Leon County in the fourth quartile, which is the highest rate in the state.
With rates like these, diagnosis for such diseases can become expensive. Ingrid Dean, 22, a senior pharmacy student from Tallahassee, said the antibiotic azithromycin, which is used to cure chlamydia, is between $40 to 60.
“Symptoms could be vague but a doctor will need to prescribe the patient with the right medicine and dosage,” Dean said. “After the first dosage the doctor may recommend the patient to come back in another two weeks to make sure the infection is cured.”
Gallimore said the magnitude of such diseases has a widespread effect and requires high-level planning and much action. Condoms are readily available in health centers on most college campuses, including Florida A&M University’s health clinic.