Rise of STD infections

Nancy Hall - Staff Writer

As the rate of teenagers infected with sexually transmitted diseases rises, the stride for better sex education classes is becoming a necessity.
New research concludes that young people need to be warned of the potential dangers of unprotected sex, including STD’s and pregnancy.
The California-based Center for Disease Control and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report that that sixty-six percent of American high school students are sexually active by their senior year..
Studies also show that sixty-five percent of all cases of sexually transmitted diseases this year are diagnosed in people under the age of 24. One in four new HIV cases is in someone under the age of 22.
“There are several different STD’s that affect students on this campus including chlamydia, genital warts, herpes, gonorrhea and hepatitis B,” said Sheila Burke, assistant director of Health Services at Quinnipiac.
Burke, who has worked at QU for ten years, says the number of students on campus with STD’s is on the rise.
“The best form of protection against STD’s and pregnancy is abstinence and to keep informed,” said Burke.
Pamphlets with information on STD’s are on display in the Health Center and nurses are available 24 hours a day to answer questions students might have. Health Services guarantees complete confidentiality for students.
The trend in the increasing number of STD cases in teens could be a result of the lack of a sex education program in the United States.
Eighteen states in the U.S., in addition to the District of Columbia, require schools to teach sex education and provide a comprehensive program to educate teens about all aspects of the topic.
Freshman Michael McKenna, who attended a Catholic high school in Connecticut, says that there was no sex education program at his school. McKenna says that while he did not have a formal course on the topic, he feels that children need to be made aware of the dangers of unprotected sex at an early age.
“I feel a program that provides students with the ethical and moral implications of sex would be in order,” McKenna said. “Teaching kids the proper knowledge about sex will help dispel myths and misconceptions about sex while also helping to prevent children from making terrible mistakes.”
Jocelyn DeBlois, also a freshman, attended a public high school in Massachusetts and was required to take a course about various STD’s, contraceptives and other risks associated with sex. Deblois says she feels the information presented to her had no influence on her personal views.
“I have been taught through my family values and life experiences,” said DeBlois. “I believe that sex ed should be taught at home because by the time children reach high school it may already be too late.”
However, studies show that parents would prefer their children to receive some form of sex education in the school system. A 1999 survey by the Hickman-Brown Research group shows that 93 percent of Americans would like to see sex education taught in high schools.
The QU Health Center encourages students to visit with its medical staff. Doctors are on duty daily and gynecologist Dr. Ted Noble is available by appointment two times a week, on average.
While most services provided at the Health Center are free for Quinnipiac students, there are exceptions. A gynecological session costs around $25 and there is also a fee for birth control pills purchased through the school.
In addition, the morning after pill is now being offered at a slightly higher cost than at outside institutions. The cost includes a Pap smear test, a Chlamydia test, as well as other STD testing and the pill itself.
“The medical staff is always available to talk about any health concerns that may arise and to give any support or guidance students need,” said Burke.