Study: 1 in 2 Sexually Active Get STD

A survey released in February by the University of North Carolina states that one of two sexually active college-age students will contract a sexually transmitted disease by age 25.Joan Cates, principal investigator for the research, said when the final research was compiled, the numbers were not surprising. “Number one, there are a lot of sexually active young people. There are a lot of infections, and people tend to not talk about the risk,” she said.Pennsylvania State University sophomore Monica Escamilla said she was surprised by the data, but she also said it was understandable.”I can see why it would be that high because I don’t think people think it will happen?? to them,” Escamilla said. “They look at it as a statistic — not real.” Ellen Nagy, University Health Services (UHS) marketing manager, said UHS is currently working on a campaign to make students aware of HIV.At Penn State, UHS offers free testing for AIDS/HIV through a grant from the state. Testing at the health center for other STDs requires a fee. Additionally, 4,225 students were tested at the health center in 2003 for sexually transmitted infections. Christine MacAulay, head of Penn State’s Global AIDS Initiative, said she has found that sexual health is still a taboo subject with many people in promoting AIDS and HIV awareness. “It’s really important for universities to work with university health centers, with students, with other universities to promote sexual health,” she said. “Every group thinks every other group is at risk, but in reality, every student on this campus is at risk.” The study’s research states that the United States has the highest STD rate of all industrialized nations. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) had the most estimated new cases in 2000, at 4.6 million. Effects of this disease include genital warts and, if left untreated, it may lead to cervical cancer. Additionally, lifetime medical costs for people between ages 15 to 24 who contracted STDs in 2000 are projected at $6.5 billion. “It makes you not want to never have sex again. I think people should be more careful and not hook up with random people,” freshman Laura Whare said. The research suggests open communication between partners, as well as better education from the medical field concerning STD prevention. Cates said she hopes that doctors will soon be required to regularly schedule STD testing, but also hopes that universities will promote awareness and encourage students to assess their own risk. Many Penn State students reacted strongly to the results of the survey. “One out of two — wow. I’m just really shocked,” sophomore Chihiro Koyano said. Senior Melissa O’Bradovich said she was also surprised by the results of the survey but felt there were ways to combat the spread of STDs. “That’s kind of scary when you think about it because it could be someone you’re sitting next to in class and never even know,” O’Bradovich said. “We should further enhance people’s knowledge of STDs and put up posters so people have a better knowledge of what’s going on around them. Then maybe that would make people think twice before having sex without a condom.” The research suggests condom availability, clinic-based screening and community outreach to help combat the spread of STDs. Additionally, youth education and media messages concerning STDs are part of the recommendations. The researchers compiled their results on surveys and tests from other studies.