Social norms in college perpetuate an expectation of having sexual relationships. For some, this is highly celebrated and seen as instrumental to our identities and social status in college.
What is not as equally encouraged for men and most other demographics is getting regular sexual health screenings. Your potential partner having up to date sexual health test results should be an indispensable factor when deciding to have sex with them.
There are no longer any excuses for not having test results when you are a sexually active in college. It does not matter if you have had a sexual relationship with only one partner. Knowing your status and being responsible for your own sexual health is part of the basic expectations that should be discussed before having any type of sex, especially unprotected sex.
Fortunately, there are organizations and resources on campus that strive to make getting tested as accessible as possible for students.
“Devils in the Bedroom likes to really focus not just on how to get tested, but we also try to tell people what will happen if you get tested and what will happen if you test positive and really emphasize that getting an STI can happen to anybody, and it’s no different than getting any other illness,” Rachel Kuntz, the director of programming for Devils in the Bedroom, said.
ASU Health Services provides $20 STI testing, and the cost can decrease if the student has insurance. The Maricopa County Health Department also conducts a full panel of testing for $20 and provides some other tests for free.
“Planned Parenthood will work with you and work with your income even if finances are a big concern for you, which they are for a lot of students,” Kuntz said.
However, the majority of the weight of being tested cannot continue being rested on women and gay men. This rhetoric is clearly utilized by the Centers for Disease Control and Convention, as they tailor their sexual health advisory messages to these specific groups as opposed to other demographics.
This is a problem because getting tested should be of a concern to every person who is sexually active regardless of the type of sex one is having. In fact, the National Health Statistics Report in 2018 revealed that 63.9% of women and 73.7% of men ages 15-24 have never been tested for HIV.
Student organizations such as Devils in the Bedroom and Planned Parenthood Generation Action are active on campus and manage educational campaigns to allow students to receive the information necessary to dispel the negative stigmas that surround getting tested. At the end of the day, for students who are familiar with the importance of getting tested, it really comes down to setting pride aside and ego and following through.
Getting tested does not mean anything other than being responsible and vigilant of your own personal health. Testing positive does not mean one is "dirty" or a "slut" or any other negative connotation.
Kuntz said that students who are worried about the social implications that may come with being tested are in reality just scared of what the results may state, adding that “they decide not to get tested because ignorance is kind of bliss."
Though there is nothing wrong with testing positive, and STI’s are treatable and many are curable, sharing your sexual health status with all potential partners is not only a sign of mutual respect, but an indicator that you are mature enough to manage the liability of having a sexual partner.
There is nothing wrong with having only one or having multiple partners, but not being safe and getting tested regardless of your preference cannot go undone.
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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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