By Brittany Barnes
On Feb. 11, University Health Services held an informational seminar on STIs and STDs called Sex and Chocolate as part of the BALANCE Workshop series.
Dr. Pat Ransel talked about the differences between bacterial STIs, parasitic STIs, and viral STIs.
She also talked about the best ways to prevent STIs, when you should get tested, the most common symptoms, and the most common STIs on our campus.
Ransel stated that chlamydia is the most common STI amongst the students, followed by gonorrhea, then herpes.
She says that contracting chlamydia or gonorrhea is somewhat good news because they both are bacterial STIs and bacterial STIs can be cured with antibiotics.
Syphilis, if caught early, is another bacterial STI can be cured with penicillin.
Ransel says that she has been seeing a few students being diagnosed with both chlamydia and gonorrhea, which she hopes does not become a trend.
If students are diagnosed with both she suggests that they get tested for other STIs because they are more likely to have others.
Herpes, on the other hand, is a viral STI that can be treated with medication but cannot be cured, just like all other viral STIs.
Other viral STIs include HIV/AIDS, HPV and Hepatitis B.
Ransel also talked about the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is used to prevent nine strains of the virus.
The recommended age to get vaccinated is 11 or 12 but can be given up until you are 26.
There are no vaccines for the other viral STIs.
Ransel listed abstinence, proper use of condoms, limiting partners, annual STI testing and communication about sexual history with partners as ways to aid in the prevention of STIs.
She stated that many people do not use condoms properly.
She advised to never use two condoms, never use an oil-based lubrication or vaseline when using a condom and made it clear that animal skin condoms do not protect against STIs.
She explained that female condoms are beneficial because they can be inserted up to eight hours before sex.
They are not made out of latex and it gives females more control if her partner does not want to use a condom.
People are less likely to use condoms during oral sex than penetration, but Ransel explains that STIs can be caught just as easily through oral sex.
Ransel recommends using dental dams for oral sex. Dental dams can be made by cutting a regular condom to make a rectangular sheet.
Ransel revealed that the most common symptoms for STIs are no symptoms at all.
Approximately 80 percent of students have no symptoms. This is why she stressed the importance of getting tested annually.
The Health Center at ESU gives free STI testing if you qualify for a grant. The one qualification for the grant is being sexually active.
Students can schedule an appointment for STI testing at any time, but testing is only done Wednesday through Friday unless you are already having symptoms.
In that case, you will be taken for testing immediately.
The grant also covers the cost of medication if you are diagnosed with an STI.
The Health Center is only available to test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
The overall message Ransel gave to those in attendance was to be safe and be proactive.
STIs can be bad, but if caught, can be cured or treated.
You cannot be treated for something you do not know you have.
So, by Ransel’s suggestion, get tested regularly.
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