STI awareness: Protecting 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. 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 11,000 STI tests. Approximately 250 students tested positive for STIs in 2015.
William Kinsey, MD, UHS medical director, says the staff and providers at UHS support safe and healthy sexual practices for students and recommend following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention'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," says Kinsey.
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 spread via unprotected vaginal sex and 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, make an appointment in the Sexual Health Clinic. UHS also provides the 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 (a vaginal swab may be collected for women)
- For women, a pelvic exam may be performed if you have genital symptoms
- Offer blood testing for HIV and/or syphilis
- Provide STI risk-reduction counseling
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 Kelsey Anderson, UHS Health Communications Specialist