Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s)

It is easy to forget that our behavior has consequences, both for ourselves and for others. For example, a female student came into a college health center with pelvic symptoms and was diagnosed as having not one, but three sexually transmitted diseases. Stunned, she asked the physician, “how could this have happened?” How, indeed?

This woman had taken the course in human sexuality. She did not lack information. What she did lack was sufficient awareness that STIs are extremely common in our society and on college campuses, and that STIs are frequent consequences of multiple sexual partnerships. As a result, she minimized the risks and denied to herself that STIs could happen to her.

A male student came to a college health center in panic because of urinary discomfort. He was sweaty, had not been able to sleep, and was sure that he had HIV/AIDS infection. His symptoms were actually consistent with a bladder infection, and he was correct to have the symptoms checked out. Although an HIV blood test was negative, lifting his fear of HIV/AIDS, he did have an STI that could be transmitted onward. His sexual behavior had put him at risk of HIV/AIDS and STIs. He very much needed STI testing, basic information, and a personal reassessment of his sexual behavior.

It is clear that the number of students engaging in non-marital sexual activity has increased. Just like other American colleges and universities, we are seeing a steady rise in the numbers of cases of genital herpes, venereal warts (HPV infection), chlamydia, and crab (pubic) lice as well as a resurgence of gonorrhea and syphilis. The risk is real! People who have any STI are up to seven times more likely to become infected with HIV than people who have not had an STI.

There are students on this campus who should be tested for HIV infection. Even if you have never used I.V. drugs, have never engaged in anal sex, or have never had a blood transfusion, IF you have ever had sexual intercourse with a person whose past sexual activity is unknown to you, you could have become infected with HIV and should be tested. There is an anonymous testing site available in Elkhart. You can call 523-2128 to make an appointment.

Goshen College continues to support the standard of sexual intercourse within monogamous marriage. If everyone adhered to this standard the STI epidemic would come to an end. But some persons engage in sexual behaviors, often without thought of the risks that go with it. For those students, we urge that as a minimum “safer sex” practices be employed, especially consistent use of condoms.

The Wellness and Health Center is ready to listen, advise, and assist with sexuality concerns and STI issues in a confidential manner. We urge everyone to help prevent the transmission of STIs.

GC counseling and health service personnel are available to students wishing to discuss issues regarding sexuality or sexual behavior. These conversations will be held in strict confidence.

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