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STI awareness: Protect your parts and your partners’ parts
April is Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month and look no further than University Health Services (UHS) for answers to your burning STI questions. According to the CDC, STIs are at a record high, so it’s more important than ever to protect your sexual health. Young people—ages 15 to 24—who have sex are at the greatest risk for contracting an STI.
The Sexual Health Clinic at UHS provides screening, diagnosis, and treatment for most STIs including HIV testing. Last year, UHS completed more than 12,000 STI tests. Of these tests, approximately 360 patients tested positive for at least one STI (Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HIV, and Syphilis) in 2016-2017.
Dr. William Kinsey, UHS medical director says the staff and providers at UHS support safe and healthy sexual practices for students and recommend following the CDC’s guidelines when it comes to getting tested for STIs. “The CDC recommends Chlamydia testing for any woman under the age of 26 who is sexually active as well as for men who have sex with men, any student who has had a known exposure to a recent partner diagnosed with an STI, and any student with a new sexual partner.”
Getting tested for STIs is an important part of taking care of yourself because many STIs don’t cause any symptoms. Untreated STIs can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and chronic pelvic pain. They can also cause cancer and increase the spread of HIV. Chlamydia—the most prevalent STI on campus—is frequently asymptomatic, so an infected student could infect their partner without even knowing it.
“In addition to the symptoms that can result from an STI, there can be medical complications that occur as well. For women, we are concerned about possible infertility and rare cases of cancer can result in men,” says Kinsey.
Most STIs that can be spread via unprotected vaginal sex can also be spread through unprotected oral and anal sex. Using latex condoms or dental dams the right way every time you have sex reduces your risk of contracting an STI and helps prevent unintended pregnancy.
At UHS, STI tests aren't part of a typical primary care visit so if you would like a STI screening, you’ll need to make an appointment in the Sexual Health Clinic. You can also stop in to UHS to get an HPV vaccination for an additional fee. The HPV vaccine protects you against diseases—including cancers—caused by the human papillomavirus.
A typical STI screening visit will take about 20 minutes and the test results are usually available two to three days after your appointment. The clinician will:
- Ask about your sexual history
- Ask about your current symptoms
- Perform a brief exam
- Collect a urine sample or a vaginal swab to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea
- A pelvic exam may be performed if you have genital symptoms
- Offer blood testing for HIV and/or syphilis
- Provide STI risk-reduction counseling
- Provide you with any needed treatment
For more information on STI testing or to make an appointment with the Sexual Health Clinic, log into MyUHS or call 608.265.5600.
Written by Allison Chang, UHS Marketing and Communication