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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Sex. Everyone on campus is talking about it, but you might be surprised as to how many people are actually doing it.

What might also surprise you is Planned Parenthood’s report that out of the 15 million new cases of STIs diagnosed in the U.S. every year, 10 million are in people ages 15-24. That could be you!

They also found that by age 24, one out of three Americans will contract a sexually transmitted infection. Before you give up all hope in doing the dirty, know the basics on STIs.

Trojan, One, Durex, Lifestyle and Crown are all your friends, and they want to have the best sex with no worries of possibly contracting unnecessary infections. Be assured that STIs are 100 percent preventable.

Let’s clarify what sexually transmitted infections are. It’s not a fancy new term I’ve made up. “Sexually transmitted infection” is the proper vocabulary used to describe what can be transmitted through sex, which may not always have symptoms or signs, as the term “disease” tends to imply. We’ve all heard the “I didn’t know they had anything” stories.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s learn about what STIs are. The three kinds of infections are bacterial, parasitic and viral, which are all spread through unprotected sex and bodily fluids (yes, that includes handsies and going downtown).

Bacterial infections

These include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. They are all treatable with medication and can be cured. Chlamydia doesn’t spread through kissing, and it shows no symptoms. Many people do not show symptoms of Gonorrhea either. Syphilis is a horse of a different color. Through its two different phases, Syphilis can introduce sores to the body, so it is more easily detectable. Less commonly, it spreads through kissing, so it is always something you want to keep in mind when considering making out with a stranger.

Parasitic infections

These are caused by parasites, meaning that there is another living thing inside of your body feeding off of you and in turn making you itch. Just wanted to paint a picture. These include trichomoniasis, scabies, which are like little mites, and pubic lice. Good news, though! Parasitic infections are both treatable and curable, so these little creatures wont be there for long if controlled swiftly, although it is best to avoid having them at all.

Viral infections

These include HPV, Herpes and HIV/AIDS, and as we all should know, they are treatable but not curable. Like all STIs, HPV is spread through unprotected sex and bodily fluids, but unlike many, it is also spread through skin-to-skin contact. HPV is especially serious because it can lead to cervical cancer in women. (Yet it does nothing to men, which is another reason why life is unfair and you have to protect yourselves, ladies.) The good news is that there are many vaccines that can prevent HPV, so you don’t end up very sad like Hannah on "Girls."

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Herpes is another infection transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and we all know you can catch this it through kissing.

And now, let’s acknowledge the big elephant in this conversation: HIV/AIDS. It’s sad. It’s scary. But it is also 100 percent preventable, and all you have to do is get tested. It is transmitted through blood, semen or vaginal fluid in unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. HIV/AIDS weakens your immune system, making you extremely susceptible to other illnesses. The worst part is you could have it for up to 10 years and have no clue, and in all that time transmit it to other people.

Now that we have ridden the tragedy train, let’s hear some good news! All of these infections are 100 percent preventable, like I have mentioned. If you find your partner irresistibly titillating, get tested. There are numerous locations all over town that will test you. Many will do it for free. Try your local Planned Parenthood location. They have box loads of free condoms dying to be used. Be smart: don’t have sex with strangers, don’t have unprotected sex, but have tons of sex, because as we all know…it is so much fun. 

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