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Trojan ranks ASU #137 on sexual health

Student Health Center claims it is prepared to help students concerned about STDs

Published: Monday, April 28, 2008

Updated: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 15:09

Today, college students at ASU have plenty to worry about with grades, jobs, expenses and living arrangements. As if these things weren't enough, students - especially young women - also need to worry about how to prevent contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Center for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a study that estimated one in four young women between the ages of 14 and 20 (3.2 million teenage girls) in the United States is infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. These most common STDs are the human papilloma virus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus, and trichomoniasis.

The study, released at the 2008 National STD Prevention Conference, was the first to examine the combined national prevalence of common STDs among adolescent women in the United States and provided the clearest picture to date of the overall STD burden in adolescent women. Led by CDC's Dr. Sara Forhan, the study also found that the two most common STDs overall were human papilloma virus (HPV) and chlamydia.

"High STD infection rates among young women are clear signs that we must continue developing ways to reach those most at risk," said Forhan. "STD screening and early treatment can prevent some of the most devastating effects of untreated STDs."

At ASU many precautions are taken to keep students aware of the fact that STDs are on the rise and though abstinence is the best way to stay STD free, the student health center provides alternatives for which students that are sexually active or planning to be, can be as sexually healthy as possible.

However, in late 2006 Trojan Brand Condoms ranked ASU No. 137 out of 150 universities surveyed about sexual health on their campus. "The Trojan Sexual Health Report Card" was the first known survey that graded the sexual health of college campuses and universities across the country and ranked Yale University No.1 for sexual health.

The schools were graded according to criteria such as amount of available resources pertaining to sexual health, depth of information provided, contraception advice and availability, HIV and STD testing, sexual assault counseling and services, campus events and other outreach programs about sexual health issues. Trojan Brand Condoms could not be reached to explain how it gathered information concerning ASU for this article.

However, according to Lisa Sheffleton, head nurse practitioner at the ASU health center, ASU provides many solutions to make students aware of the dangers that come along with having an STD.

"One of our staff members speaks to freshman classes in the fall about the dangers of unprotected sex, and we also participate in 'The Care Program,' which occurs during the week of Valentine's Day," Sheffleton said. "During this week, we pass out condoms to students and provide free, confidential HIV screenings."

Sheffleton never received a copy of the survey from Trojan, but has heard of the results. In her opinion, the health center, contrary to the survey results, goes above and beyond in meeting the expectations. The only thing the center does not do is purchase Trojan Brand Condoms, she noted.

"The survey is biased. Our department is on a budget because the university only allows us $22,000 for supplies; we cannot afford Trojan Brand Condoms," Sheffleton said.

And, not only does the student health center not purchase the condoms, but Sheffleton claimed the Trojan condoms are not durable. In a test conducted by the health center, five different brands of condoms were filled with water and shook in a way to mimic that of sexual activity, and only one out of five survived the test - Durex Brand Condoms. Trojan was one of the brands that did not survive.

Durex Brand Condoms are free to any student on campus and are displayed in a large container in the lobby of the health center along with brochures, posters and fliers pertaining to information about STD's, HIV testing, counseling, etc.

The health center along with the counseling center participates in other on-campus programs designed to warn students of the dangers of unprotected sex.

Amber Martin, a counselor working in her fifth year at the counseling center, said that of the students she has counseled not many have questions concerning STD's, but she knows what to do when those kinds of questions arise. Martin also believes that abstinence is the best policy in staying STD free, but she and the rest of the counselors agree that their primary goal is the safety of the students.

"If a student comes in with a concern over coming into contact with an STD, we at the counseling center do all we can to listen and provide counseling for the student," Martin said. "We also provide them with statistics concerning STDs and recommend they see someone at the health center as soon as possible."

The counseling center also provides counseling and lectures pertaining to those who are victims of sexual assault and their families.

"Our primary concern is the student," Martin said. "If we can provide any kind of emotional or mental relief to a student who has been sexually assaulted and the effects it has had on them and their families then that is what we will do."

Though the health center provides confidential STD screenings and free condoms to students, they, along with the counseling center, do not have many students visit them with questions concerning STDs. Sheffleton would not comment about which STD was found most commonly among those students who have been tested on the ASU campus.

"Of the entire student body, only about 10 percent visit our facility with concerns of coming into contact with an STD," Sheffleton said. "I can say, of the students we have tested, I have seen at least one case of every kind of sexually transmitted disease."

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