“Sexually transmitted diseases are of the top five illnesses/diseases on campus.” – Dr. Boggs
Intoxication often plays a significant role in unprotected sex. During the first stage of intoxication, college students will lose cognitive awareness, inhibiting the part of the brain that is in charge of making decisions between right versus wrong. Even if the individual knew the right choice when sober, it unfortunately does not mean that the same individual has the power to make the same decision when intoxicated.
Professor Stephanie Amada teaches Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University (MSU). She states, “One of the things that I think drives hookup culture is alcohol, and when you have people who are very drunk, and then having casual sex, using condoms is not the first thing they are thinking about.”
College communities are known for throwing parties that encourage attendees to drink regardless of the age. This only promotes unsafe sexual behavior and can spread sexually transmitted diseases within the college community. Perhaps if college students were more educated and aware of the circumstances, certain situations could be avoided.
In an interview with Kristin Hlubik, the Health Promotion Coordinator on campus, she states, “Students don’t have much education about sexual health. Many students have expressed during a sex health workshop that it is there first time receiving any information about sex education.”
Thankfully, H.E.R.O.E.S. is a group of trained peer educators with a goal to make UC Merced a healthier campus. The sexual health goals include, “…increase[ing] the proportion of sexually active students who report using condoms most of the time or always for vaginal intercourse….anal intercourse….[and] increase the proportion of students who report they have ever been tested for HIV.” Condoms are provided around campus and brochures containing information about STDs are also found at the health center. Similarly, workshops are also held in residential halls to educate about sex health. In order to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases on campus, the first step is to educate and provide students with the service needed.
But even with the service provided by the school campus, there is a stigma that surrounds STDs. There is a fear implemented by social media and peers that negatively label people with STDs as “dirty.” The language in which STDs are brought can affect how the listeners take in such information. Practicing safe sex is important but that does not invalidate the feelings behind an individual who may have come into contact with an STD. This stigma is what prevents students from getting the help needed.
Get tested. Be educated. Use condoms.