STDs run rampant, anyone can be affected

On Friday, Student Health Services Director Shankar A. Shetty, M.D., released the number of sexually transmitted disease cases that the university has had from May of 2001 to January of this year.

During this time, there have been 45 cases of chlamydia,the most common STD in the United States. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease caused by chlamydia trachomatis, a micro-organism.

Although blacks make up 45 percent of the nation’s HIV/AIDS population, FAMU’s health department reports that there was no student who, during the specified time period, tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

This came as a surprise to some students that AIDS, one of the top killers of African Americans, did not appear on the list .

“Considering the number of blacks in Florida who have AIDS, I suppose that I am shocked [that AIDS was not on the list],” said freshman Jamelle Young, a pharmacy major from Anniston, Ala.

In addition to chlamydia cases, some students on campus have tested positive for gonorrhea, genital herpes, and syphilis, as well. But chlamydia continues to dominate the statistics.

Sufferers of chlamydia do not always have symptoms. For this reason, the 500,000 cases reported annually nationwide can be increased 10 times that number, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

Since May, FAMU has had 33 cases of gonorrhea, a disease caused by bacterium that travels throughout the body and can affect a person’s joints and eyes.

The on-campus health department also had five cases of genital herpes, which causes blistering and is non-curable.

In addition, syphilis, an STD that can lead to death if left untreated, was found in two incidents. It is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum and can damage organs.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Health report that of the four stages that characterize syphilis, a person who has the disease can infect a sexual partner during the first two, which commonly last for one to two years.

The NIAID estimates two-thirds of the people who have STDs in the United States are 25 years of age or younger.

When asked how many Famuans he believes have been infected with an STD sophomore Gerren Johnson, a Computer Information Systems student from Jasper, said, “I believe that about 25 percent of this school’s population has an STD”.

Freshman Ava James, a history student from Tallahassee had a different opinion.

“Atleast 50 percent [of FAMU’s population has an STD] because some people don’t know that they have one,” she said.

Because the numbers given are only of people who’ve been tested for these diseases on campus, they don’t give an accurate depiction of the number of students who have an STD.

There are people who have been tested at locations other than on campus, as well as people who have not been tested at all.

Although being tested is often the beginning of treatment, freshman Brian Britton, a computer engineer student from Kingston, Jamaica, believes that education is the real treatment and can eventually lower the rate of STD contraction.

“The past shows us that STD cases are a result of a lack of knowledge,” he said.

Jason Campbell, a junior business major from Chicago, said, “I believe that of the entire FAMU population, only 3500 to 4000 people, if that, know much about STD’s.”

Much of FAMU’s population is a product of schools that set aside a specific time to lecture on sexual intercourse and the diseases that can be the result of unprotected sex. However, some students believe that “sex-ed” may not have succeeded in informing students about STDs.

Britton believes that there should be an international system for teaching about STDs.

“If all of the countries were to create an educational system that would inform people of the consequences and preventative measures against STDs, then it would be seen that due to knowledge, the amount of STD contractions would have greatly reduced,” he said.