Keep campus sexually safe, get checked

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    Sex: it’s fun, free and available at any time of day. But with such a simple physical act comes a lot of responsibility to both yourself and your partner or partners. We’re talking health. It’s important to respect your own health and the health of your partner. Ignorance of this can bring terrible consequences in the form of something you probably don’t want.

    Laura Crawley, assistant dean of Campus Life for health promotion, said it’s important for both men and women to understand sexual health because sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, can have detrimental and different effects both now and later.

    “STIs have a more serious impact for women, barring HIV and AIDS, which impact males and females alike,” Crawley said.

    If you’ve never been checked, you can end the mystery by taking a simple test you don’t even have to study for – and there are no trick questions.

    The Health Center offers both exams and treatment for STIs. There are also several public health centers within driving distance of campus.

    Although the thought of it may seem scary, Crawley said, the anxiety before an exam is more frightening than the test itself.

    “It’s not a picnic, but it’s not the worst thing that can happen to you,” said Crawley. “Get a test and get it over with.”

    For men, an STI exam involves nothing more painful than a quick physical exam, “pee in a cup” and a blood test. It costs less than $100 and the confidential results are available within two to three days.

    Women’s pelvic examinations are used to check for cancers, infections and STIs, according to WebMD.com. A blood test is used to check for HIV.

    Though many have already had “the talk,” it’s not uncommon to still want to know more.

    More than half of the questions TCU students ask are about sex or sexual health, Crawley said.

    To help students learn more, Crawley said, TCU is taking part in the National College Health Assessment and introducing TCU’s first-ever health fair.

    Steve Kintigh, director of Campus Recreation, and Crawley will co-host the health fair Nov. 10. The National College Health Assessment is a campuswide student poll addressing all aspects of student life, including sexual health.

    According to a 2004 report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Worth ranked No. 25 in the nation for the highest reported rates of syphilis. The number of reported syphilis cases nationwide had decreased steadily since the early 1990s until 2000, when the number of cases in Fort Worth began to increase.

    More than 100 different types of human papillomavirus exist and more than half of all sexually active men in the United States will have HPV at some point, according to the CDC.

    Chlamydia and HPV, the two most common STIs, are often asymptomatic, meaning symptoms might not appear until later or not at all, Crawley said.

    “By age 50, roughly 80 percent of women will have had some form of HPV,” Crawley said.

    Though generally dormant in men, HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women, according to the CDC.

    One way to reduce the risk of contracting an STI is using a condom for every sexual act.

    According to a three-month 2006 study of 100 U.S. colleges and universities conducted by Trojan Condoms, TCU ranked among the bottom 25 “least sexually healthy schools,” finishing at No. 78.

    The study defines sexually healthy schools as those with access to contraceptives and prophylactics as well as HIV and STI testing services. TCU’s score of 1.1 on a 4.0 scale was due in part to a lack of condom availability on campus.

    TCU failed to receive higher than a “C” in any category on the survey. To view the entire report card, visit trojancondoms.com.

    If love is a battlefield, then you’ll want all the advantages you can get. Whether you’re just testing the waters or diving right in, it’s of great benefit to yourself and others to be routinely checked.