Test yourself before you wreck yourself
The Spectrum’s sex survey reveals dire need for increased STI testing
Over four in 10 sexually active UB students have never been tested for STIs.
Our survey of 1,003 UB students on sexual behavior revealed a series of startling statistics, but none as worrisome as this lack of testing.
The results are particularly condemning toward those who identified as male - over half of sexually active respondents stated they have never been tested.
It is important to remind students that STIs are often more than just a temporary nuisance. Some are chronic and lifelong plagues, others potentially fatal.
The UB National College Health Assessment (NCHA) for Spring 2013 cited an average of nearly two sexual partners per student per year, of those who had one or more partner in the past year.
The potential for spreading STIs on this campus is real, and students must take it seriously - if not for your own sake, then for the sake of your partners, be they long-term relationships or short-term flings.
Nobody deserves to pay for his or her partner's negligence.
Perhaps a discussion of some common myths is in order. It is certainly necessary on campus.
Condoms, contraception in its various forms and mere trust are not sufficient alone in preventing the spread of STIs.
Regular testing is a proactive method in preventing infection of others and allows the individual, if he or she is diagnosed, to receive the best treatment sooner rather than later.
STIs do not always show symptoms, certainly not immediately, making testing an effective and fast way to know for sure. Contraception is not always enough alone. Skin-to-skin contact and, particularly, oral sex can spread STIs as well.
And testing is not painful or prohibitively difficult to receive. For UB students, testing costs, at most, $30 at Student Health Services on South Campus. It is a routine procedure and should be treated as such.
The point is simply this - as university students admitted to UB for our intellect and academic rigor, expected to go on to bright futures, such irresponsibility is dangerous for ourselves and unconscionable to our partners.
The education and resources to responsibly prevent STIs and unprotected sex are available. And though nothing substitutes good judgment, there is room for the university to do more, beyond just handing out condoms at a couple offices.
A more comprehensive approach, one that actively promotes and encourages testing, is necessary. If one is in place, its effectiveness is questionable.
Fear mongering is the tactic of middle school sex ed., and it would likely only breed contempt today. Ill-informed students need to learn the importance of testing, and the ease of doing it, lest they simply avoid the process.
Newly sexually active students, or those who are more conservative, may already feel excluded by programs that throw out handfuls of condoms and lube. A bit more tact in some programs is needed to meet these considerations.
Tackling what is so clearly a pervasive issue at UB requires a varied approach. The university's administration and health services, for the wellbeing of their students, must meet this challenge with utmost seriousness.
Each of us should consider what we can do, namely getting tested despite misgivings or apprehensions. What may seem inconvenient or awkward at first is well worth it.
No pleasure in life is free from cost or responsibility. But to ensure you and your present or future partners don't need to pay in irritation, embarrassment or worse, accept the responsibility of getting tested.
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