» By CHRIS COPPEDGE – ccoppedge@my.apsu.edu

It seems not even organized college campuses are entirely free from the unquenchable youthful desire for sex. This has led to Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Illnesses becoming a sizable problem on APSU’s campus.

“We do see STIs frequently in the clinic,” said Kristy Reed, Family Nursing Practitioner at APSU Health Services, but it’s difficult to get exact statistics because of how the diagnoses are coded.

Health Services offers free condoms, educational materials, classes and presentations by request from faculty and staff. They encourage STD screenings as per Center for Disease Control recommendations.

HIV/AIDS screenings go for $23, chlamydia and gonorrhea are $27 each, syphilis is $13, trichomoniasis for $8 and hepatitis for $93.

STDs are not just a problem on campus. The Montgomery County Health Department offers free testing and treatment for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV.

In 2009, the state of Tennessee had alarming statistics regarding reported cases of certain STDs. The total amount of HIV diagnoses in males, for example, numbered 687; for females, it was 245, adding up to 945 total statewide cases.

In terms of individual counties, some disease counts are worse than others. Davidson County reported a total of 3,495 chlamydia diagnoses and 871 gonorrhea cases in 2009. Davidson and Shelby were also two of the few counties to report primary, secondary, early latent and late latent cases of syphilis between 1996 and 2010.

In Montgomery County, 1,203 cases of chlamydia

were reported in 2009, as were 385 cases of gonorrhea and seven cases of late latent syphilis.

There isn’t an official policy regarding STDs according to Health Services, but it certainly has some strong views on the matter.

“The only guaranteed means of protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases is to remain abstinent,” said Lowell Roddy, director of Student Counseling and Health Services. “For those who choose to be sexually active, a condom is essential. Having unprotected sex is like playing Russian roulette; at some point there could be a life-threatening surprise.”

The Centers for Disease Control Fact Sheet for public health personnel agrees latex condoms provide “an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens.” However, it also warns there can be differences in how effective condoms’ protection against different kinds of STDs because they are transmitted in different ways.

As the website notes, condoms provide greater protection against diseases transmitted by “genital secretion” such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea and chlamydia, but less so against genital ulcer diseases such as herpes, syphilis or chancroid since those can be transmitted by contact with infected skin or mucosal surfaces.

Sexually transmitted diseases and infections remain a problem, whether or not one is a college student. As always, it is advised to be careful and safe when you’re having fun. You never know what might strike when you least expect it. TAS