STI/STD Awareness Month
Know your status, Pirates!
April is STI/STD Awareness Month! This is a time to increase awareness and encourage testing for sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs) including HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that of sexually active people in the US, 1 in 2 will get an STI by the time they’re 25. That could be you or the person sitting next to you in class. There are about 20 million new STIs diagnosed each year, half are among young people ages 15-24. While getting an STI is more common than you probably thought, people are still incredibly uncomfortable talking about it. Let’s change that now!
This STI Awareness Month (and all year long), take control of your sexual health. Start having open and honest conversations with your partner(s) and healthcare provider about sexual health and STIs. Here are some conversation starters that might help you when talking to your partner(s):
Talk before you have sex.
- “Getting tested before we have sex will help protect both of us.”
- “Many people who have an STI don’t know it. Why take a chance when we can know for sure?”
There are other things you may want to talk to your partner about, such as:
- Sexual history – the number of partners you’ve had and what kind of protection you used
- Risk factors – like whether you’ve had sex without a condom or used drugs with needles
Share the facts.
- “STIs that are found and treated early are less likely to cause long-term problems.”
- “Getting tested is easy. Doctors can test urine (pee) for chlamydia and gonorrhea, some of the most common STIs. And some HIV tests can give results in 20 minutes. You may not even have to give blood.”
- “If you don’t feel comfortable talking about STIs with your regular doctor, you can get tested at a clinic instead.”
Show that you care.
- “I really care about you. I want to make sure we are both healthy.”
- “I’ve been tested for STIs, including HIV. Are you willing to do the same?”
- “Let’s get tested together.”
Agree to stay safe.
- “If we’re going to have sex, using condoms is the best way to protect us from STIs. Let’s use condoms every time we have sex.”
- “We can enjoy sex more if we know it’s safe.”
Being a student is challenging on its own, we understand you are in the process of carving your own path in life. STIs don’t define you or what you can do in life. Sometimes you can feel alone with an STI diagnosis. You don’t have to be alone – speak to someone you trust, a friend, parent or healthcare provider and talk about it.
The only way to know your status is to get tested. At Student Health, you have two options for getting tested:
- If you are symptom-free, you can schedule a visit with the Fast Track nurse to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, and/or syphilis. Make sure not to urinate within 1 hour of your appointment time (if you want oral screening for chlamydia/gonorrhea, do not eat/drink/chew for 1 hour prior to your appointment).
- If you have symptoms and need testing for possible warts or herpes, make a clinic appointment with one of our providers. They can also treat any other symptoms you may have like penile drip or discharge; sores, bumps or blisters around your genital or anal area; burning with urination; swollen or tender testicles; throat pain; rectal bleeding, discharge, itching, or bumps.
Remember, STIs are very common but most young people don’t know they are infected. If you do have an STI, work with your healthcare provider to get the proper treatment. It’s important to always wear a condom or use a dental dam to avoid getting an STI or infecting your partner(s).
Have a general question about STIs? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Sexual Health Association (ASHA): Yes Means Test. www.yesmeanstest.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): STD Awareness Month – Archive
Image source: https://www.healthypeople.gov/