As many young men and women are off to colleges and universities across the nation – some for the first time – this is the start of a new age of freedom and exploration. With this new freedom also comes meeting new people and having new experiences including alcohol consumption and dating. When combined, however, these new experiences can lead to risks associated with unprotected sex and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
While students (ages 15-24) only account for a fourth of the sexually active population, they represent half of all new cases of STDs in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC and studies show that only 52 percent of students use a condom during sex. That means young people are getting an education on STDs the hard way – contracting chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts and HIV at twice the rate of all other age groups.
There could be many reasons for this trend.
• Oral Contraception - As many female students go on oral contraceptives, they forgo the use of condoms increasing their chance of contracting or spreading an STD.
• Technology - The rise of dating sites and apps can make it easier for people to have “hook-ups” and casual sex leading to greater risk for themselves and their partners.
• Lack of Education - Ironically, most colleges and universities don’t make sex education a requirement in their general curriculum. Students get stuck with the same myths and disinformation that they received in high school usually from their peers.
• Lack of Communication - With little experience in relationships, most young people find it harder to talk about sex than to actually have it. That means no discussion on sexual history, health, monogamy or even contraception, leaving them to take their chances.
• Under the Influence – One of the most destructive factors in sexually charged situations is the introduction of alcohol. Young men and women may have little relationship experience at their age. With the freedom of living on their own and impaired judgment, they may not be taking proper precautions during their sexual experiences.
To take proper precautions and prevent the spread or contraction of STDs, most major colleges and universities have campus health centers. These centers can provide information, check-ups and some, even testing and treatment. For campuses that do not provide testing and treatment, students who have technology at the tip of their fingers should research digital healthcare trends like LabFinder.com. The service can assist busy students in finding nearby locations to get tested as well as book and access their STD test results – quickly and discretely.
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