It Ain’t All about Catching the Love-Bug

Here is my latest article for my university newspaper, the Oracle! Check out the original article here or on the Oracle website at http://www.hsuoracle.com/news/so-what-s-gotten-into-you/article_c821d6fe-cf57-11e5-afb5-f32f00c5fa17.html. Enjoy!

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which means everyone is going to be doing the do… Well, perhaps not everyone (shout out to all the singles and celibates).

Whether or not students plan to partake in the “go all the way” romance Valentine’s night, it is in everyone’s best interest to learn as much about the different forms of contraception as possible.

Not all students are well-read in protection against sexually transmitted infections, so they may be wondering, “Who do I ask about that sort of thing? How do I find out the best way to protect myself? Where can I get the protection that’s right for me?”

Welcome, my possibly-virginal child, to just the informative article required.

Henderson’s health center is just the place to start regarding basic facts to help students protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

Tami Arnold, Henderson registered nurse, suggests these simple-to-understand steps to best protect against STI’s:

  1. Practicing Abstinence from oral, vaginal, or anal sex (no contact with infected fluids or tissue)
  2. Limiting the amount of sexual partners you have in your lifetime (the more partners you have, the more at risk for STI’s).
  3. Using Latex Condoms every time and correctly. (Free Condoms are available at the HSU Student Health and Counseling Center).
  4. Getting vaccinated from STI’s:  Hepatitis B vaccine, HPV vaccine

Sounds easy enough, right?

“Not really, I’m still a little unsure about some of these options.”

That’s all right, my child; the information is all right here.

Practicing abstinence is a 100% sure way to avoid contracting any STI’s and having any unwanted pregnancies, but let’s be honest: at some point, many of us will want to skip gleefully into that next phase of the relationship. Or perhaps someone will want to get a little friskier than usual at the party down the street with that super-cute somebody they’ve been flirting with for over a month now.

Thus, options 2, 3, and 4 are necessary to follow to stay safe and healthy.

“Using condoms is the best method of preventing infection if two people are going to have sex,” website Advocates for Youth stated when comparing all forms of protection and contraception. However, “Condoms do not provide complete protection against genital herpes, syphilis, cancroids, or HPV because the STIs can be transmitted across infected skin surfaces not covered by the condom.”

Condoms are indeed great protection against STI’s, but obviously they can’t stop everything from being transmitted. STI’s can be contracted through kissing (even if it’s not French) and touching of the genitals (better known as hand-jobs and fingering).

That doesn’t mean students should disregard the use of condoms. They still protect from so much, and decrease the chances of infection as well as pregnancy significantly according to numerous sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Young Women’s Health.

“All right, so I’ll keep some condoms around, but where can I get them? What if I can’t afford them?”

Henderson’s student health center, below Mooney School of Business, provides free (that’s right, FREE) condoms to all students.

Additionally, students can get checked for STI’s whether or not they have symptoms at the Clark County Health Department. Students can call 870-246-4471 to make an appointment.

In fact, RN Arnold encourages sexually active students to get tested for STI’s yearly whether or not they have symptoms, because some infections have early stages without any noticeable symptoms. The earlier a student with an infection is made aware, the earlier treatment can start, and the easier it will be to treat or possibly cure the infection (depending upon the type of infection).

There are other forms of protection against STI’s aside from the male condom. There are also female condoms and preventative vaccinations as aforementioned. Male condoms simply prove as one of the most highly-rated, cost-efficient, and easy to use forms of protection.

Consumer Reports rates LifeStyle brand condoms as the best condom, which is the brand provided by Henderson. Men’s Health prefers Trojan’s Ultra Ribbed Ecstasy for pleasure, sensitivity, and flexibility. Students can take that information however they want.

“What if I made a mistake? What if I had sex and forgot to use protection, or what if it failed?”

Believe it or not, they don’t just make a day-after pill (sometimes called the “Plan B” pill) for pregnancy.

However, it is only to be used in emergency situations according to the United Nations Population Information Network.

“Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) involves taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible (within 3 days) after you may have been exposed to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive,” website Aids.gov stated.

It takes approximately a month to complete the procedure, and it only reduces the chances of HIV specifically, but it is easily accessible through the emergency room or local doctor’s office via appointment. It can also be expensive and insurance will not cover the cost unless it is due to sexual assault, in which case the victim can get coverage through the Office for Victims of Crime.

Until there are more and better post-exposure medications, it is important for students to follow the preventative options available.

In other words: get tested, make sure partners are sexually healthy and/or tested, and use a condom (male or female).

Overall, my child, make this Valentine’s Day VD-free.

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