October has arrived, and with it wonderful new opportunities to get screened for sexually transmitted diseases at the Winslow Heath Center right here on campus! This week, we are going to share with you basic information about STI and STDs, how to avoid them and how to get tested.
First off, what exactly is an STI or al STD? They are infections that get passed from person to person usually through intimate sexual contact. This involves vaginal, anal, oral or any form of genital touching. Remember, you don’t need to have penetrative sex to get an STI.
It is important to remember that STIs are a very common occurrence, and are not always incredibly serious. Over half of all Americans will contract an STI during their lifetime, and approximately 19 million infections spring up every year. You may think, “Wow that’s such a huge number, how do people keep getting infected?” This large number of infections typically occurs because most STIs have little to no symptoms. If you’re not aware you have an STI, then you can easily infect your partner or others.
One of the most common STIs is the human papillomavirus (HPV) and in the majority of cases it displays no symptoms at all. Some other common STIs include: chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis. If left untreated, these infections can lead to cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and other widespread problems throughout the body.
This is why we cannot stress enough how important it is to get tested! If you are sexually active at all, or have been in the past, then you are the perfect candidate to get tested! STIs can infect anyone of all genders, sexualities, ages, races, etc. “How do I get tested?” you may ask. Well, that’s simple! Our friendly neighborhood Winslow Health Center, located in Schultz hall, is partnering with Meadville Family Planning Services to offer free STI screenings Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The test will screen for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Call the health center at 814-332-4355 for more information and scheduling options.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering, “Will it hurt?”You will be relieved to hear that getting tested is a breeze. If you do so through the health center here you will be asked for a urine sample (so make sure you have to pee) and a blood sample. They only take one small tube so don’t worry. More invasive testing includes pelvic exams or a tissue sampling.
On a closing note, the most foolproof way to prevent STIs is to not have sex, but we’re realistic here, so the absolute best way to prevent STIs is to always use protection! It is also helpful to know your partner’s sexual history and to stay on top of your own sexual health and testing.