Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, February 14, 2008





Campus Health: abstinence, condom use to prevent sexual problems

 by Claudia Koerner
 published on Thursday, February 14, 2008


Valentine's Day makes some people tingly all over, but others may feel more uncomfortable than anything else.

If these people are having unprotected sex, it may be the result of a sexually transmitted infection.

Allan Markus, Director of ASU Campus Health, said sexually transmitted infections are a concern to students and anyone else who may have multiple partners.

"We still see a lot of people coming for screening, so there's a lot of awareness among students," Markus said. "I would not say we see a lot of sexually transmitted infections, but we do see a lot of people who are still engaging in high-risk activity."

Campus Health does rapid screenings for HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia, and can also test for Hepatitis B and herpes, Markus said. Anyone engaging in what Markus calls "high-risk behavior" having sex without a condom or with multiple partners is in danger of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.

"They need to get checked," Markus said.

Architecture senior George Johnston said he thinks many people still don't get tested for infections because of an "it-will-never-happen-to-me attitude."

"I think it's your own responsibility to protect yourself," Johnston said.

Sociology freshman Sarah Schulhauser agreed that knowing about the dangers of infection is a personal responsibility.

"College students are more sexually active than most people and should know the consequences of their actions," she said.

And, even though some types of infection clear up on their own, Markus said others could have serious consequences if not treated.

Even the most common infection, human papillomavirus, or HPV, can be dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than half of sexually active men and women will get HPV during their lives. Markus said 90 percent of these cases will heal without treatment, but some forms of the virus can cause genital warts and lead to cancer.

Other common infections are gonorrhea and chlamydia. Symptoms can include burning urine and discharge, Markus said, and, without treatment, the infections can cause infertility. Markus said he recommends that women get screened at least once for Chlamydia to check for fertility problems.

Not only can infections have harmful long-term effects some are painful, Markus said. Genital herpes is known for its painful sores and requires years of treatment to manage outbreaks, according to the CDC.

Hepatitis B, a liver disease, can be transmitted sexually and is only detectable by a blood test. And while almost all cases clear up, Markus said the infection can turn into a long-term condition, leading to liver failure and cancer.

Individual symptoms aside, Markus said more sexually transmitted infection often come in tandem.

"By having one sexually transmitted infection, it puts you at a higher likelihood of having other infections," Markus said.

In the face of many varieties of possible infection, Markus said he encourages people to use condoms every time they have intercourse or oral sex. Even using protection doesn't guarantee sexual health, though, Markus said.

Abstinence is psychology sophomore Renee Firing's personal philosophy. Firing said she believes pre-marital sex can be harmful because of sexually transmitted infections, as well as causing emotional damage.

"[Pre-marital sex] is not part of God's plan," Firing said.

Markus and the CDC recommend abstinence as the only sure way to prevent infections.

"The only guaranteed way to not get a sexually transmitted infection is not to engage in sex," Markus said.

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