Know your status: April is STD Awareness Month

April is National Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)/ Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Month. This month is nationally observed to encourage people to get tested regularly and to raise public awareness about the impact that STDs and STIs have on a person’s regular life. Many students on campus are sexually active, however, fewer students get tested on a regular basis. 

An STD/STI is an infection that is passed during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and sometimes by genital to genital touching. STDs like HIV and hepatitis B are spread by contact with infected. 

Although some individuals show signs, many people can have an STD and show no symptoms. It is important that STDs are treated because they can lead to more detrimental health problems. 

“We have seen a slight increase from fall to spring in positive test results, especially in chlamydia,” said nurse ppractitioner Patrice Outley from the Foster-Johnson Health Center on campus. 

The Foster-Johnson Health Center offers services to students that are paid for through tuition; services such as free biweekly STD screening and monthly HIV tests are offered. Tests for the three most common sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. 

For commonly sexually transmitted infections like herpes and genital warts, students would have to go outside of the university and pay for testing. 

Some people can become infected and not show symptoms, however, there are signs to look for if you are sexually active. Symptoms are similar but may differ in men and women. 

Symptoms for chlamydia show 7-28 days after a sexual encounter with an infected person. The symptoms found in women may include a discharge from the vagina, bleeding between menstrual cycles, pain or a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urination and abdominal pains that may be accompanied by a fever and nausea. 

Chlamydia symptoms in men include a watery, white drip from the penis, pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, and swollen or tender testicles. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men show no symptoms of chlamydia.

Symptoms for gonorrhea show 2-21 days after a sexual encounter with an infected person. If a woman has been infected she may notice thick yellow or grey discharge, pain or burning when urinating or having a bowel movement, abnormal bleeding between menstrual cycles, and cramps in lower abdomen. In men the symptoms include, thick greenish or yellow drip from penis, burning or pain when urinating or having a bowel movement, the need to urinate more frequently, and swollen or tender testicles. 

Syphilis is an STD with several stages. The first stage is a painless sore on the mouth or genitals. These sores last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Although the sore goes away, the person will still be infected with the disease. as Syphilis can develop in the brain, on the spinal cord, heart or other parts of the body if left untreated. This disease may cause blindness, lead to hair loss, a cough, or eye brain, nerve, bowel, stomach, liver or kidney issues. 

The best way to prevent contracting an STD or STI is to practice safe sex or abstinence. Foster-Johnson provides free condoms to students. 

STD screenings take place every Tuesday from 8:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., as well as every thursday from 8:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. These screenings are by appointment only and can be scheduled via phone call or walk-in.