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Test yourself before you wreck yourself

by Hazen Health Center of Integrated Care
Tue, Nov 28th 2017 10:35 pm

Getting tested for STD/STIs is taboo in today’s society. People do not like talking about it, let alone actually doing it. Some believe that if they go and get tested, others will view them differently and have a negative attitude toward them. 

Sorry to break it to you, but when it comes to your health, everyone else’s opinion is irrelevant and you have to take care of yourself.

In college, there is a lot of sexual activity going on. It can be an exciting activity and should be enjoyed in the safest way possible.; however, with increased amounts of sexual activity, the chances for STD/STIs being spread from unprotected sex also increases. 

Let’s break down the difference between an STD and STI. An STD is a Sexual Transmitted Disease and an STI is a Sexually Transmitted Infection. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but according to the American Sexual Health Association, there are some differences. An STD is permanent but can be managed (example: herpes), where  as an STI is an infection, and if caught early enough, can be treated and cured (example: syphilis). 

The rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have been increasing in individuals ages 15-24, the prime age range for most college students. We are a high-risk population for STIs. In combatting that, we have to engage in safe sex practices. This can mean using contraceptives such as male and female condoms, and dental dams for oral sex. 

Not having sex all together is another choice, but that last option would be quite hard for some, even if it is the most secure option to avoid contracting an STI.

Another way to reduce the chance of getting an STI is to have an open channel of communication with your partner. We all deserve to be able to engage in enjoyable sex practices without worrying about contracting something. 

Having conversations about you or your partner’s STI/STD status can be awkward and challenging, but if you cannot have this conversation or if you are having doubts about your partner, maybe having sex or doing any other sexual activity is not the best idea. The best idea is getting yourself tested. Better yet, go and get tested with your partner.

Before having sex with someone, people often ask their partner how many other people they have had sex with. This can be perceived as prying, but it is necessary, especially if they engage in unprotected sex. 

To ensure everyone is protected, regardless of what your partner tells you, let them know that you will be getting tested before you choose to have sex with them. In doing so, encourage your partner to get tested as well. 

You can say, “it’s not that I don’t trust you, I just really care about this and I don’t know if I trust your past partners being honest with you.” 

At the end of the day, honesty is the best policy. At times, your partner may not be planned and may be a result of a college “hookup.” It is important to get tested before and after every new partner, especially if conversations about STI/STD status were not had. The best way to treat an STI/STD is to catch it early on!

One place on campus where you can be tested is the Hazen Center for Integrated Care. You can call and schedule an appointment or make the appointment in person. The staff makes the process extremely easy. At an appointment, you are asked questions about your sexual activity, have blood drawn to be tested, pee in a cup and have your throat swabbed to be checked for STIs. 

If your results come back positive, there will be a phone call from Hazen and you can discuss further actions that need to be taken about the STI. If you get back negative results, you will receive a message in your MY HAZEN – Patient Portal. 

When your partner asks if you have been tested, you have proof of your results and are one-step closer to having safer sex. One of the great things about going to Hazen for this is that it is covered by your Student Health Fee!

Other places in the area to be tested are the Oak Orchard Community Health Center in Brockport, Trillium Health, Planned Parenthood and Highland Family Planning all have offices in the greater Rochester area. 

Do not be afraid to get tested or have a conversation with your partner about getting tested. It will not only benefit you, but the entire Brockport community when the stigmas about getting tested are diminished.

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