The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

STDs untreated, unreported on campus

Sexually active students overlook HPV dangers

Elizabeth did not worry about contracting a sexually transmitteddisease during her first semester at Texas Tech.

“I had a lot of fun, dated a little and had unprotectedsex occasionally,” said Elizabeth, who asked to remainanonymous.

“I never thought I would get an STD. I did not sleeparound with random men or anything. I knew these guys, I went toschool with them.”

Elizabeth was wrong.

“I developed two STD’s from the same guy, one STD Iwill have to live with for the rest of my life,” shesaid.

Elizabeth is not alone. STD’s have become a major problemamong 18-24 year olds. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundationfound that one in four young people who have unprotected sexdevelop STD’s every year.

A study on yourmedicalsource.com states that in 1999 more thanone third of the women who contracted HIV got it as a result ofhaving unprotected sex with men.

HIV was the fifth leading cause of death of Americans aged 25 to44 according to www.CDC.gov.

The STD situation at SMU parallels what is happening nationally,according to Cathey Soutter, counseling psychologist in theMemorial Health Center on campus. She said it is hard to getprecise figures because many times STDs go untreated andunreported.

In addition, she said students may go elsewhere to places likePlanned Parenthood because of the shame often associated withhaving an STD.

Soutter said Human Papillova Virus is one STD that is on therise nationally and can be very detrimental to male and femalehealth. HPV, a virus that infects the skin, affects 5.5 millionAmericans each year.

There is a risk of cervical cancer in women and penile cancer inmen that is associated with HPV. Chlamydia is an STD that usuallygoes unnoticed. There are very few symptoms, which makes it veryhard to detect. Forty percent of all cases of chlamydia canpotentially lead to infertility.

John, a senior engineering major at SMU said that many of hisfriends are not worried about STD’s even though they oftenhave unprotected sex.

John, who asked to remain anonymous, understands their point ofview. “My impression is that most girls on this campus areclean because of their demographic, their background”, hesaid.

“They probably have not had much sexual experience. Iwould assume they don’t have STDs.”

This is a popular attitude, according to the Kaiser study. Morethan two thirds of young people who had unprotected sex said thatthey did not believe that they were at risk. The study found thatmany young people are uniformed about STD’s, or assume theywill not personally be affected.

The Kaiser study found that 73 percent of sexually activecollege students reported having unprotected sex.

One in six say sex without a condom, once in a while, “isno big deal.” While nine out of 10 said that using a condomis a sign of respect, caring and responsibility, about half saidbringing up the subject of condoms could raise suspicions aboutone’s sexual history.

Rebecca Griffeth, a Perkins School of Theology student, is notsexually active. “I believe that sex is something to be savedfor my husband.”

Griffeth worries about her sexually active friends. “Thefact that you could get an STD so easily should make you want toget to know a person well before having sex. One of my biggestfears about premarital sex is contracting an STD,” shesaid.

Elizabeth believes that her life would be very different todayhad she not contracted an STD. “I wish I could let more youngpeople know how much an STD can change your life,” shesaid.

“I would give almost anything to go back to the point inmy life that I didn’t worry about contracting a sexuallytransmitted disease. Unfortunately, I’ll just have to livewith a single decision I made many years ago that will affect methroughout my life.”

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