In the last few consecutive years, STI rates have been on a steady incline. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were 2.3 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017. While there is some confusion about the difference of an STD and an STI, it should be noted that they are interchangeable terms.
On our campus, the most prevalent positive STI is chlamydia. This isn’t surprising considering that it is also the most common condition reported to the CDC in 2017 with over 1.7 million cases reported. This information also coincides with the statistical records kept at the Women’s and Men’s Health Services clinic. Of the 4,962 individuals tested in the first six months of 2018 for chlamydia, only 487 received a negative result.
According to family nurse practitioners Dana Buchanan and Christina Foster at the Women’s and Men’s clinic off of Dillon Lane here in Corpus Christi, the biggest misconception among the youth that came into the shelter and tested positive is that, “It won’t happen to me.” They have seen countless situations of infidelity and cases of being “naive and trusting their partners.”
Shelley Martinez-Lopez, registered nurse for over 20 years and Associate director of the clinic on campus, suggests getting tested each and every time you change a partner and also stresses the importance that “protection with oral sex is just as important as it is with genital-to-genital sex.” Through the use of flavored condoms and or dental dams, it can be just as enjoyable and reduce your risks of contracting viruses.
Should someone feel embarrassed about stopping into the clinic to retrieve free protection such as condoms and dental dams, there are more discrete options. People can call in to ask for condoms and they will be put into a bag for them so all they have to do is go in and pick up their order.
Martinez-Lopez, feels that there is a stigma around getting tested. She feels as though many people may shy away from getting tested, “Due to the fear of gaining a reputation as promiscuous.” Prices could also be a factor in people not getting tested.
There are free testing opportunities at both clinics but not many students seem to take advantage of these. When free testing was offered on campus on Sept. 12, only 44 students got tested. That’s not even 1% of the student population on the island. “Due to the rising rates of individuals testing positive for various diseases, the clinic on campus started providing more free testing throughout the year instead of only once a semester.”
Something to be cautious of is that women are typically more likely to be asymptomatic for some diseases when compared to their male counterparts. With some diseases like chlamydia taking a year for symptoms to show, this can lead to serious consequences for females who go untreated such as infertility, chronic pelvic pain, an ectopic pregnancy and increased risk of HIV along with many more issues. Both clinics offer testing for chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis and more.
For more information on when the clinic on campus offers free testing, you can call in, look at the dates that are posted on the Islander mobile app, and check out iNews.