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It's 2012. Shouldn’t College Students Know to Wrap It Up Already? (A Graduate Student’s Perspective)

Written by Ivy Abiona for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.
This article is published in partnership with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) as part of our joint series on STD Awareness.
They are more common than an all-nighter to finish a term paper or cramming for a final exam. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. But the fact that STDS have a high prevalence among college aged students in the United States is alarming. One in four college students today has some kind of STD, a shocking 25 percent. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 19 million new cases of STDs occur every year, half of them occuring in people between 15 to 24 years old. I can’t say that I am a math whiz but let’s just say I don’t like the odds. After doing some investigating I found that a primary reason for these high rates was a lack of education. As a New Jersey (yes, New Jersey) high school graduate I found this to be somewhat puzzling. I remember learning about different STDS and preventive measures. Even the nurse’s office had signs and posters describing this information. Don’t all students learn about prevention and safe sex in their health education courses in middle and/or in high school? A 2006 study by the CDC demonstrates that my optimistic perspective is a utopian flaw. The CDC study indicated that among U.S. high schools, 28 percent taught 11 key pregnancy, HIV, or other STD prevention topics in a required health education course.  In addition, while 87 percent of high schools taught abstinence as the most effective method to avoid pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs in a required health education course, only 39 percent taught how to correctly use a condom in a required health education course.  Clearly, high school students are in dire need of preventive and safe sex education and just teaching abstinence isn’t going to cut it. Early last month, the Guttmacher Institute released new research reaffirming other data and information that a comprehensive sexual education (teaching both abstinence and preventive measures) not only helps teens delay sex but also has a positive impact on other decisions when they do, such as partner selection. Now, fast forward three months later and the high school senior is a college freshman. It is possible that this student attends college in another state or across the country; either way this student probably living in a campus dorm no longer under the direct influence of mom and dad. Also, this student is experiencing all of the liberating feelings that come along with college -- making your own decisions, the freedom of living on your own, and meeting lots of new peers who will eventually become lifelong friends. And I would be remiss to mention the countless opportunities to party, let’s be real here we are talking about college. College creates an environment that can put many students in high-risk situations including having unprotected sex. Over 45 percent of college freshmen who have been binge drinking and under the influence of alcohol failed to use protection when engaging in sexual intercourse. Fifteen percent of these students contracted and/or spread STD's amongst other college students. In addition, 7 percent of the students who contracted and/or spread STDs amongst other college students were unaware of their condition. Continue reading....