Minus the City – The Serious One

Erin Bergman & Kimmy Cunningham

OMG. Did you hear that three people got diagnosed with HIV at the Health Center this semester? Yep, we heard the rumor. And guess what? It’s not true. However, it did get us thinking that an article on sexual health might be warranted. Even though the health center verified that three students have not been diagnosed, the possibility that HIV and other STDs have infiltrated our bubble is a scary thought. When we first heard the rumor, we were shocked. But after further consideration, we realized this isn’t such a far-fetched scenario: girl goes abroad; girl meets French “model”; you know…girl comes back to campus and sleeps with ex-boyfriend. Turns out Monsieur “Model” ain’t so clean. Next thing you know, an entire group of friends has The Clap.

We decided it was time to get online and do some research. The first site that popped up was a statement released by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that said rates of Chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea are climbing for the first time in a decade. There were more than 1,000,000 cases of Chlamydia diagnosed in the US last year alone. Think about it: there probably aren’t many 85-year-old women or 10-year-old boys contracting this STD. You do the math. We’re in the most sexually active and promiscuous age bracket, which means it’s safe to assume a high percentage of these cases are found in kids like us.

We wanted an expert opinion on the venereal disease situation at Colgate, so we interviewed the famous Dr. Miller at the Health Center. She began by telling us, “Kids know the facts, but that doesn’t always transmit into the bedroom.” And, it’s true. We have been thoroughly educated about the risks of many of these STDs, but a bottle of tequila later, getting the pants of that fine sophomore playing Stronger on his acoustic guitar seems more important than worrying about the possibility of genital warts. Now we’re not actually saying that Mr. Phi Tau (excuse us, Mr. Colgate) has any sort of STD, but it is true that there are kids on this campus that do.

So you’ve heard the age old question: (in Ben Stein’s voice) What can you do to prevent venereal disease? In the words of our mothers (no seriously, we come from very open households), “Use your rubbers.” Not having one is not an excuse and never has been. Boys, keep one in your wallet. Girls, you’d be surprised how empowering that little piece of rubber is in your clutch. Furthermore, the buddy system is one of your best lines of defense. Say one of your recently single best friends is giving a lap dance on the front seat of the Cruiser. You sense that the four shots of tequila, three beers and two Mary Specials may have gone to her head. Not to mention, you’ve heard a thing or two about the boy she’s mounting. While we normally don’t advocate listening to the rumor mill, when it comes to the family jewels or your pretty kitty, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Now would the perfect time to intervene and take her to bed (preferably her own).

Being a good friend doesn’t end there. As is the case with all that is fun, there is such a thing as having too many sexual partners. Everyone has different sexual standards about prudence and promiscuity. Keeping this in mind, if you’re worried about a friend’s recent sexual behavior, talk to them. If they aren’t receptive to your worries about their health, simply point out that no one wants a ride on the village bicycle. The threat of gossip may at least get them to reconsider their behavior.

Ok, so let’s say this article is a few weeks too late for you. Not to worry (too much), the Health Center offers discrete testing and treatment. Dr. Miller kindly went over the procedure and pricing for each. For girls, the Health Center offers testing for HPV, HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia and gonorrhea. For boys, all are offered except HPV testing. The cost is $60 to be tested for all of the above. Worried your parents will think you’re a slut? Fret no more. The Health Center has an option for students to pay for testing under the university’s name (aka, it doesn’t go through your parents’ insurance). Payment plans are available and flexible. Dr. Miller assured us that she’d rather have people coming in to be tested than worry about the cost. The results vary by disease, but it can take up to two weeks to get tests back. That’s a long time to wait by the phone.

That brings us to our final point. This is a scary subject, and some of these diseases don’t go away. As Dr. Miller so aptly put it, many of these STDs are silent. You can’t walk across the quad and point out Chlamydia Karen or Gonorrhea Greg. Many people infected don’t have symptoms, nor do they necessarily even know they have a venereal disease. This makes it doubly important that if you think you may have been exposed (aka the condom broke or you don’t remember whether you used one or not) to go in and get tested. Sorry guys, we promise, next week will be on a lighter note, filled with our usual inappropriate, sexual innuendos. Happy Thanksgiving!