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College students at high risk for STDs

Sept. 12, 1996

Chelsa Dunn/ LariatJohn-Paul DeBauge, a Kansas freshman, donates blood in the the American Red Cross Bloodmobile stationed outside Marrs McLean Gymnasium Wednesday.

By Denise Crozier

Lariat Reporter

University students are at especially high risk for sexually transmitted diseases, said a national health organization.

The American Social Health Association said people under 25 account for two-thirds of the new STD infections in the United States.

In response, the American College Health Association designed a manual concerning integrated strategies for HPV, or human papillomavirus, STD and cancer prevention.

In the manual, the ACHA defined itself as a non-profit organization based in Baltimore, Md., that represents and serves professionals providing health services to the higher education community.

ACHA said STDs affect increasing numbers of individuals in colleges and universities. STDs threaten the health and well-being of students and have created a demand for services at college health centers.

The two most prevalent STDs in the college population today, according to the manual, are HPV-related diseases and chlamydia. Herpes is another STD seen frequently among college students.

According to the manual, having HPV or any STD can be a psychologically traumatic experience, and assessing and addressing the emotions accompanying the physical aspects of STDs is important.

Louise Saunders, director of nurses, said confidentiality is a major concern at the Health Center.

'Work here is just like work at a doctor's office ­ nothing is released without signed consent of the student, ' Saunders said.

According to the manual, referrals to health professionals knowledgeable about STDs and their effects and skills in meeting the special needs of affected persons should be considered.

The exact evaluation procedure may vary depending on the individual's situation, but obtaining the patient's consent for evaluation and treatment is necessary.

According to the ACHA, women should be evaluated if they have abnormal Pap smear results, and both men and women with genital lesions or partners with lesions should visit a clinic.

The manual said treatment is undertaken to remove lesions and relieve troublesome symptoms.

However, treatment does not eliminate the presence of the virus.

The treatment for sex partners does not affect the recurrence or persistence of a person's lesions. Partner evaluation and treatment is recommended to relieve the partner's symptoms and reduce risk for future partners.

Prevention of HPV and other STDs is a common concern among students. According to the manual, every individual who has sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral or anal) is at risk of infection with an STD. As the number of sex partners increases, so does the risk.

The manual listed options such as abstinence, sexual expression through low-risk activities, participation in intercourse only if in a monogamous and lifelong relationship or less frequent participation in sexual relationships.

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