Chaffey College Fighting the STI Stigma

A recent study from the Center for Disease Control revealed that STIs are on a gradual rise in the United States. The majority of cases are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The Women's Health Organization describes STIs as an infection passed from one person to another through vaginal, oral or anal sex. All three STIs have grown over the last four years in the U.S.

Last year Physician One reported, "nearly 50 percent of the 20 million new STDs diagnosed each year are among young people between the ages of 15–24 years" and among that number, the majority are college students.

Experts are attributing this spike to the recent decline of condom use, lack of sex education and stigma.

Several STIs have become antibiotic-resistant in recent years, with gonorrhea being the most resistant to treatments. Antibiotic resistance is the power of bacteria to resist the drug being used to treat the infection.

Untreated STIs can lead to serious health issues. Both women and men can become infertile if an STI is not properly treated, and are more susceptible to contracting HIV. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most damaging to women's bodies, because they usually do not show symptoms. The CDC website states that they are currently down to one last effective antibiotic for treating gonorrhea. If these numbers continue to rise it can create adverse affects in the near future. The CDC urges Americans to get tested and practice safe sex.

So if the solution to preventing STIs is simple, why is America still seeing a rise in cases? According to the Huffington Post, the social stigma around STIs is very prevalent in today's world. Whether it is being transparent with your partner about getting tested or encouraging your friends to practice safe sex, people still feel there is embarrassment attached to conversations about sexual health.

"The use of condoms should be used to not only prevent pregnancy, but also to protect yourself from STD’s." said Chaffey student Madison Valadez, "I think it’s important to be responsible and know how your sexual activity could affect you."

There are several misconceptions college students have about contracting an STI. "If the person looks really clean they do not have any type of disease" said Chaffey College's Director of Student Health Services, Dr. Kay Peek. "Just by visuals people assume things they shouldn't assume" STIs do not discriminate. Whether you've had multiple partners, or are in a monogamous relationship, it can affect you.

Chaffey's Student Health Services offers a multitude of services for STI prevention and treatment for currently enrolled students. On average they perform around five to ten STI tests a week. The lab tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea are $44, and the antibiotics to get treated are free.

Their hallway is filled with a variety of pamphlets and items for sexual health, including condoms and dental dams. However, that is not the only thing Chaffey is doing to prevent STIs on campus.

Throughout the week of World Aids Day, Chaffey College will be offering a Health Education Outreach program with a focus on STIs. During school hours students will have the ability to learn more about prevention, treatment and how to live a healthy sex life.