Statistics show a 196 percent increase in sexually transmitted diseases, STDs, diagnosed by Student Health and Counseling Services, SHCS, on the UTM campus.
According to SHCS, a comparison was made between STDs diagnosed on the UTM campus from July 2010-June 2011 and STDs diagnosed from July 2011-June 2012. The comparison results were a staggering 196 percent increase. The STDs reflected in the statistics are chlamydia and gonorrhea.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health Website http://health.state.tn.us/, the number of STDs listed from January 2012 to August 2012 is larger than the number listed from January 2011 to August 2011 by 19 percent in chlamydia cases and 29 percent in gonorrhea cases.
When a comparison is made between the percentage increases of STDs on the UTM campus with the overall percentage increase of STDs within the west Tennessee Region, one can’t help but notice a huge difference.
With this dramatic difference in mind, one can’t help but ask why there are so many cases of STDs occurring on the UTM campus. Is it because of a lack of knowledge where STDs are concerned, a lack of money to purchase protection, a lack of a convenient mode of transportation to obtain protection or is it just a case of boredom and lack of responsibility?
If it is just a case of boredom, it can be cured by getting more involved in your school through student organizations, sports and volunteering.
If it is just a lack of responsibility, it is time to realize that you are not only responsible for yourself and your actions, but also the effect that those actions have on others.
“Sexual awareness and sexual responsibility are essential elements to a person’s well being. When you make a decision to act in an irresponsible way, you can cause negative consequences for yourself and others,” said Shannon Deal, SHCS Director and Nurse Practitioner.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections of the genitals, anus or throat, with the former being the most common STD. They are treated with antibiotics and are curable, but can have serious permanent consequences if left untreated.
While chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the more common STDs, and the two that are reflected in the statistics above, they are but a few among many of the STDs that are diagnosed each year. Viral STDs such as genital human papillomavirus, HPV, syphilis and HIV are treatable but incurable. These STDs have serious consequences that can even cause death.
“Some of the consequences such as viral STDs have life-long implications. We all have a social obligation to make sexually responsible decisions and learning about sexual awareness is the first step,” Deal said. “If you are responsible enough to engage in sexual activity, you need to be responsible enough to make sure you have and use protection.”
If it is a lack of knowledge that is causing all the STD problems, there are several good websites with helpful information, and of course, SHCS is always ready to help UTM students with any questions concerning their health.
“Perhaps the most important service that we offer is individualized education and consultation to all students utilizing our services. We discuss screening guidelines, contraception, nutrition, sexual coercion, STD prevention, self-breast exams and other related topics,” Deal said.
One thing that is very important to remember about STDs is that some people who are infected never experience any symptoms. So, it is extremely important for everyone who is sexually active to be routinely tested.
If it is a lack of money to purchase protection that’s a problem, SHCS has the solution for you, by providing free condoms to students. They are available in their lobby, exam rooms and bathrooms and are available during their regular operating hours. The condoms are provided free to SHCS by the Tennessee Department of Health
“The condoms are packaged in bundles of eight. Each includes an educational slip detailing how to properly use the condoms. Also included is a sticker with the Student Health and Counseling Services’ phone number and information about STD testing and family planning services, should they choose to use it,” Deal said.
If it is a lack of a convenient mode of transportation to purchase protection, SHCS has that covered also. SHCS is located on the UTM campus and is conveniently within walking distance of the entire campus.
Finding a solution to all of the previously asked questions, one would think that the problem of increasing rates of STDs being diagnosed on the UTM campus would be solved. The only way that this will be true is if everyone steps up and takes responsibility for their actions.
STDs are preventable and treatable, and most are curable, but they all can have serious consequences to you and your sexual partners.
“You have a social obligation to identify your partners so they can receive proper treatment. I think the most important thing is for students to be responsible and accountable for their actions, and they also need to stay true to themselves,” Deal said.
Take a non-scientific, confidential poll regarding the free condoms and whether the days and hours that SHCS are available is convenient for you at www.utmpacer.com.
Student Health and Counseling Services
Hours of Operation
7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.
7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Fri.