Sexually transmitted diseases have become a major problem in America’s colleges, where unprotected sex has become much too common. To help protect yourself or your child from serious consequences, make sure you know the facts about STDs.
A Silent Epidemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 50 percent of the 20 million new STDs diagnosed each year are among young people between the ages of 15–24 years. A large percentage of these cases occur among college students, who often underestimate the risks of having unprotected sex.
The CDC says that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common type of STD on college campuses. The cause of genital warts, cervical cancer and most types of genital cancers, HPV is an incurable virus that is highly transmissible through oral sex and intercourse. Many times, it causes no noticeable symptoms, which makes the transmission rate extremely high.
After HPV, chlamydia is the next common form of STD among young people. Caused by a bacterial infection, chlamydia can cause permanent damage to reproductive organs if left untreated. While antibiotic medications can be used to treat the infection, experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for drug-resistant strains.
After these infections, herpes – or more specifically HSV-2 – is the next most common STD among young people. According to the CDC, nearly 20 percent of all college students have the herpes virus. Spread much like chlamydia, herpes is not curable, although medications can be used to reduce symptoms.
Stemming the Tide
Sadly, the prevalence of STDs among young people has been underreported by the media. In turn, most parents and college students remain unaware of the high risks unprotected sex. If you are a student, it’s important to use a latex condom or dental dam any time you engage in sex. If you are the parent of a student, you should take the time to advise your child about the long-term consequences of not using protection.
The best way to stay safe from these social diseases is to practice total abstinence; however, this isn’t always realistic in a college atmosphere. Education, regular testing and condoms are the next best lines of defense against this silent epidemic on our nation’s campuses.