One of the contributors’ mothers was asked to contribute to the Hump-Day Gazette for this issue, due to her unique perspective on STDs/STIs, especially HIV/AIDS as someone who has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years.
As a new graduate of a Bachelor of Science and Nursing program at a noteworthy University Medical Center in the Southeast (think Paul Farmer!), I was there as HIV/AIDS was first being diagnosed. Our unit would accept a young man with significant gastrointestinal symptoms and maybe a pneumonia and then watch unbelieving as he deteriorated and died within weeks. It was terrifying for the staff of new nurses, medical students, residents and well-established attending physicians. Quickly the medical community established that these patients suffered from HIV/AIDS. Some had acquired the virus through homosexual contact, but many had gotten it through heterosexual contact or IV drug use. I cared for a beautiful young woman in the medical ICU who was eventually intubated and placed on the ventilator terminally and ultimately died. She had contacted HIV/AIDS from her husband and his source of infection was never identified. I was part of the frenzy that surrounded the original HIV/AIDS diagnosing.
As Health Care workers we were strongly encouraged to use universal precautions in the hospital and to use serious protection in our social lives. We were encouraged to use condoms and to teach anyone who would listen to do the same. No one wanted HIV/AIDS to spread.
As I review articles from the 1980s, I see that some articles support that up to 40% of students who were well aware of AIDS and the importance of using a condom actually did use condoms. Apparently, the passion and commitment of many health care workers and educators has made a difference as the prevalence of new HIV infections in the US has decreased recently.
When I agreed to write this article I wanted to investigate why the dramatic intensity encouraging condom use that we experienced in the 1980s-1990s is no longer. From what I could gather, because people live chronically with HIV/AIDS, it is old news and the numbers are not increasing in the US. However, the statistics for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections are still frightening.
More recent articles quote the statistics on condom use for college students as being anywhere from 7-20%. Students know they are at risk. The CDC estimates that 1 in 500 college students are HIV positive. However, for some reason, students are ignoring the statistic that each year 1.8 million people are dying from AIDS world-wide.
My point is that students need to remain vigilant They can’t just have a good night of pong and forget about being a tiny bit responsible. Some of the statistics I came across in a very casual search were:
- One in four College students has an STD.
- Over all there are nineteen million new STDs transmitted each year, almost half among 15-24 year olds.
- Eighty percent of people who have STDs experience no noticeable symptoms.
- More than half of the participants in a study done among college students believe that they can tell if someone has a STD just by looking at them … NO MATTER HOW SOMEONE DRESSES, ACTS OR LOOKS THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL WITH A RELIABLE DEGEEE OF ACCURACY WHETER SOMEONE HAS AN STD.
Students, pay attention to your Sexperts- get tested and use condoms unless you are in a monogamous relationship and you both have been tested. Bad STDs, STIs and HIV/AIDS are still out there, although they are not as dramatically portrayed as they once were. Pay attention, be smart and make good choices…Your parents and your health care workers love you and want to see you grow up and be happy and HEALTHY!
As always, STD screening at Dick’s House is typically quick and easy. You can schedule an appointment with a provider by calling the Dick’s House appointment office at 603-646-9401. Please do not urinate one hour prior to the appointment.