Do college students know about affordable STD testing?

Photo credits: Adobe Stock Photo
“STD testing tubes.”

For many college students, conversations about sexual health and getting tested can be taboo or
uncomfortable to share in an open space. As of January 24, Tallahassee is ranked as one of the
top five cities in Florida with the highest STD rates.

According to ESPN, there are 1,257 HIV cases, 1,083 Gonorrhea cases and 3,379 Chlamydia
cases in Tallahassee. These numbers are just the cases that are recorded, and do not indicate the
status of people who are not being tested.

FAMU has provided students with a myriad of health services within their primary care clinic.
Some of the services include physical exams, immunizations, family planning and STD/ HIV
A student who wishes to remain anonymous says that they were unaware of the services that
were provided until a recent visit.

“I recently transferred, so I had to submit my immunizations to health services and when I
walked in, I saw the condoms in fish bowls and a sign that provided family planning and STD
testing,” said the student. “I grabbed a few [condoms] just to stay safe, and I also asked a
representative if I could take an STD test while I was waiting.” To the student’s surprise, the
testing process was quick and confidential.

Veronica Hightower is a liaison for FAMU’s health services and realized that many students did
not know about other testing services until COVID-19 hit.

“When we started conducting rapid COVID testing, we were also seeing an influx of students
asking about STD testing as well when we updated our website,” said Hightower. “Students were

saying how they would have to receive STD testing through their primary care physicians, but
that was hard to do and most of these students live out of town and have classes through the

There are roughly 19 million newly diagnosed sexually transmitted infections each year and
about 50% of those cases are from people aged 15-24 years old. According to the Center for
Disease Control, the ideal time to get tested for STDs is 2-4 weeks after the initial exposure. The
2-4 weeks is the window period, which is the wait time for a disease or virus to actually show up
on a test. Depending on the test, STDs can be accurately tested after 9-11 days with an RNA test.

Zaniya Pierre is a fourth year business administration scholar at FAMU. “I was actually able to
get a lot of information about STDs at some of the meetings the groups on campus would have,”
Pierre said. “I found out where to find testing on an STD check website and some of them are
free so that itself is awesome.”

Fundraising coordinators of the coalition have had previous events at FAMU where students can
be made aware of the services that are offered. A representative from the coalition stated how
several students that were in attendance of these events were unaware of Big Bend Cares’
proximity to campus.

“Many students were actually shocked that our building was so close to campus,” said the
representative. “Our coalition was placed in the Southside of town to serve college students and
people who may not receive testing resources on a regular basis.”

Students can also receive testing with or without insurance, and can schedule an appointment
over the phone for speedy and accurate testing.