Presumably, when Ahmed Chawki sang “This is the time of our lives”, he was dedicating the song to high school leavers who were riding away from home, in vehicles sprayed boldly with flying colors of freedom.
It is true, freedom is synonymous to college where life is set according to one's rules and ‘deregulations'. First-times to everything worth trying out happen within those revered years of fun and study and there is nothing on earth that can stop an adventurous student from fulfilling all he/she had outlined as a bucket list. Most importantly, there are no prying eyes of parents/caregivers which monitor to prompt the mouth to ask odd questions.
For many college students, being on their own means hooking up with new friends, partying into the night, booze-binge and doing all kinds of stuff that were once out of their reach in high school or at home.
Those who have been sexually active before their sophomore years would not find sex difficult to have in a totally new environment – and with totally new persons. Those who are yet to be initiated into the act of sexual intercourse and are willing to give it a try find college a guiltless place to get it done.
The Realness of the Reality
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have revealed that being young and sexually active come with a price, more so when there are potential risks that could have been avoided in the first place. The price that always lingers around apart from that of unwanted pregnancy is that which is tagged to sexually transmitted diseases.
Estimates on the incidence and prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases point fingers at adolescents and young adults being infected with half of all new sexually transmitted diseases. To drive the news in further, 1 in every 4 college student in the United States has an STD.
Because much care is thrown to the wind when it comes to letting loose and giving life some fun, adolescents and young adults are at a higher risk of contracting these diseases that could be life-maiming if not treated on time.
Complications arising from untreated STDs affect both females and males. Chlamydia and human papillomavirus are two examples of sexually transmitted diseases which females are more susceptible to acquiring and having complications out of. Chlamydia can render the female reproductive system unproductive, while the human papillomavirus has been strongly associated with cervical cancer in females.
One may wonder why it seems too huge a task to track down and treat diseases contracted sexually before complications arise. First of all, sexually transmitted diseases, at their onset, are without striking symptoms which can haul one into the hospital for prompt treatment. They are silent and can mimic random sicknesses which are thought to come and go. Also, sexual intercourse, known as an act for spreading and acquiring some diseases is not limited to vaginal sex. Oral sex and anal sex are routes through which one can contract an STD.
As earlier stated, the fear of unprepared-for pregnancy can lead a young girl to depend solely on oral contraceptives without ever considering condoms as essential barriers against diseases of concern. Many youngsters are very much interested in oral sex and anal sex for reasons borne out of one-sided lectures on ‘sexual abstinence’ that makes the vagina the only prohibited area for sexual activities. Invariably, a great percentage of them do not use condoms or use condoms incorrectly for any form of sexual intercourse, and before they have graduated from college, they must have had more than two sexual partners.
A good number of college students who are well aware of the implications of involving in risky behaviors such as one-night stands, binging on alcohol, injecting drugs and having casual sex that can render one vulnerable to acquiring an STD are fearful and self-conscious enough to avail themselves the opportunity to get tested and treated in a screening center within the school.
Be that as it may, stigmatization that is attached to promiscuity is a situation many of these sexually active (and sexually molested) students would gladly avoid. Those who will brave the consequences for their lives’ sake are met with surly attitudes from some healthcare workers, long waiting time, probing of their minds and bodies with unending questions and hurting swabs, respectively. Also discouraging are huge bills to pay and outright mailing of their challenges to their parents or guardians.
Traditional Intervention Is No More Interesting
Expectedly, first-time visits turn to lasts (Note: it is recommended that screening/testing for STDs be on a routine basis for sexually active persons). To halve the issues of stigmatization and reluctance to keep using the services of screening centers/hospitals, colleges in partnership with public health organizations/advocates should, as a matter of exigency, make rapid test kits available for free distribution to college students as an incentive for their willingness to stay STD-free. This should be coordinated through the office of students’ affairs.
Rapid test kits have been proven to be the right tools for screening for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases; they provide impeccable results and also provide the needed privacy, comfort, and convenience to their users.
Letting the growing trend of STDs amongst college students to be mitigated by relying solely on screening centers and hospitals without considering other possible areas of solution like rapid test kits (being one of the best anonymous routes to testing), treating and minimizing the risk of the spread of STDs, will yield minimal results.
It is not out of place, then, to deduce that more college students are getting more time-constrained, making the night the most affordable time for them to unwind. Since screening centers operate mainly during the day, it is unlikely that night-time students may be attended to, as required.
Using rapid test kits will not only be beneficial to a student but also to his/her partner who may not be a college student. The location notwithstanding, STDs can be checked for without hassles.
Reading this is a way of getting informed. Suggesting this to policy makers including those in the health sector is making the information acquired useful. Feeling and living life are real; STDs are real too.