The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

If sex is a must, so is avoiding infection

Illustration by Alex Bihm
Illustration by Alex Bihm

EDITORIAL –

Let’s face it, many college students are sexually active. And many of them lack the proper knowledge of the risks involved and the steps taken to help prevent these risks — sexually transmitted infections.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 million people are infected daily across the globe, not including HIV. More than half of all adults will be infected at least once in their lifetime with an STI. Currently, the U.S. has the highest rate of STIs of any industrialized nation.

Many of these infections are curable with proper medications and treatments. Some can only be maintained with medications and/or lifestyle modifications.

STIs fall in two categories: bacterial and viral. Bacterial infections include gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis and can be cured with little damage if caught early. The longer they go untreated, the more damage they can do. Treatments also get more complicated, sometimes requiring surgery. Some viral infections can be cured. Many, including genital warts, genital herpes and HIV can only be maintained with proper treatments.

A number of viral and bacterial infections show few or no symptoms for long periods of time after infection. In some cases like syphilis, called “the great imitator,” the symptoms mimic other common infections and disappear, causing people to think they may have had a “bug.”

There are effective ways to prevent infection. First and foremost, be smart. Choose partners wisely. Numerous people have taken to the Internet to find partners, but this raises the risk of infection tremendously. Because a number of these infections are asymptomatic for long periods, the only way to know if one is infected is to be tested. Without regular checkups, there is no real way to know if that person is infected, no matter how honest and sweet that person may be.

Various forms of contraceptives are great for preventing pregnancy. Only one is 99.9 percent effective in preventing an STI — the condom. The largest percentage of infections is spread during intercourse. Unless you are in a monogamous relationship with someone you completely trust and who is regularly tested, use a condom. They are affordable and readily available. In fact, a condom may be the cheapest life-saving device money can buy.

Last but not least, get regular check-ups. This is the only true way to know if you are being a safe partner for someone else and that you are living healthy. The AIDS Outreach Center regularly offers free, confidential HIV/syphilis testing on all five campuses. Check The Collegian calendar or contact campus health services departments for more details. Unchecked, these infections can cause major complications to reproductive organs, birthing complications and even death.

Three simple lifestyle decisions are all it takes to practice safe sex: choosing a partner wisely, using condoms and getting regular checkups. These three things are relatively inexpensive and easy to do. The flip-side is more time and money spent with a doctor, in some cases for the rest of your life with treatments and medications, and even possible death.

Be smart and be safe.

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