OPINION: Having sex? Get tested.


I remember that in my conservative childhood church, there was a preacher who always seemed to give the sermons about sex. He would walk up to the podium, lean in, and facetiously hiss the words, “Let’s talk about sex” — stretching out the “x” in “sex” like a lecherous serpent.

Your only options were to laugh or rip your eyes out. I’m not sure what he hoped to achieve with that opening, but he sure succeeded in making us uncomfortable.

As I’ve grown up, sex has only become a more prevalent conversation topic, though I’m relieved to hear fewer sermons about it.

It seems everybody wants to talk about sex, but what about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

What? Not as fun?

As college students, we navigate a terrain of burgeoning independence, reduced supervision, and expanded opportunity.

According to Dr. Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “by the time they are seniors in high school, most teens in the U.S will be sexually active.” Given this, it’s no surprise that sexual health is a pressing matter for college students.

Despite advances in STI treatments and awareness, STD and STI prevalence is an issue in the Wichita community.

HIV rates are flat despite the best efforts of health advocates, and Syphilis, a completely curable disease, is endemic in Sedgwick County.

College-age people are especially susceptible to STIs.

People coming into college have differing levels of sex education and may or may not know how to protect themselves and their partners.

Almost half of the new 20 million STD cases diagnosed annually occur in people ages 15-24. One quarter of new HIV infections happen among people 13-24.

There are resources on Wichita State’s campus to protect students who are sexually active from the statistically rampant and potentially destructive STIs that threaten young adults.

Positive Directions, a local health advocacy group, partners with Student Health Services once every month to test free of charge for HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Hepatitis C.

These tests allow you to make the most informed decisions possible about your sexual health and protect you from the long-term effects of untreated STIs, like the aforementioned endemic Syphilis, which, while curable, can cause disfiguration and even death when left untreated.

These services cannot protect you or your partners if you do not take advantage of them. So get tested. STI testing is part of being sexually responsible as well as a basic component of health care.

It can be easy to put testing off out of fear or because you think that your sexual habits protect you from STIs. Regardless of your sexual history, if you are sexually active, STI testing is fundamental to your personal health and the health of your sexual partners.

Don’t leave yourself in the dark about your sexual health and don’t listen to snake-like preachers or well-meaning partners when the medical facts are at your fingertips.

Get tested.