The CDC reports of STDs have increased for four straight years, hitting a new record high. However, Northwestern has yet to change how it approaches sexually transmitted diseases for its students’ health.
to the CDC, there were about 2.3 new million cases of gonorrhea,
syphilis and chlamydia diagnosed in 2017. This is an increase of
200,000 from 2016. Half of the new cases are being diagnosed in
youth and young adults, which makes them most at risk. An even bigger
problem is that a majority of them don’t get tested for STDs.
National STD Prevention Conference Scientific Committee Chair Edward Hook said it’s definitely the younger generation that’s most at risk for getting a sexually transmitted infection.
of the problem is the lack of education college students have about
STDs and safe sex upon leaving high school. Some high schools are
letting colleges teach kids about safe sex, but Northwestern has no
made changes that would incorporate a safe sex program.
Fiedler graduated from an all-girls middle school in Ashville, N.C.
She said the sex education she attained from her school was less than
adequate. According to Fiedler, the math teacher brought in organic
vegetables from her condoms and was putting condoms on them. She
would then ask the kids if they had questions.
problem, Fiedler said, was that no one knew what kinds of questions
National Conference of State Legislatures in 24 states demand that
sex education be taught in schools with just 21 one of them adding in
that STDs like HIV and others are addressed. Students come to
Northwestern from various areas of the world, which means not
everybody has been exposed to sex education.
students came to school never having had had sex and others don’t
know what safe sex is.
said when she arrived at Northwestern, she had to catch up on her
learning. The university has a Center for Awareness, Response and
Education, which offers students a sexual health program and free
condoms if asked.
Assistant Director Carrier Wachter said the CARE programs offers
sexual health-related information such as the basics of STIs and
contraception as well as practicing safe sex. It offers most of what
a student should have been taught in school but wasn’t.
develops material for The Student Body, which is dialogue the
university has with students about sex during the orientation
program doesn’t have in-depth information about STDs and sexual
health but doesn’t go into detail about consent and sex. According
to Wachter, they do try to explain what the different consent aspects
are when talking about sex in such a short time period.
Wachter said, the rising numbers may change how much content is
Student and Family Programs Director Patricia Hilkert said her
office, which handles new student orientation, and CARE would have to
work in conjunction with one another to alter the content.
Hilkert said if STD rates are on the rise, they’d have to do more research and see how the information could be added to the TND. The current TND focus is about healthy consent and sexuality, which means the script would need some new additions.
said adding information about preventing STDs and safe sex would not
disrupt the current material in the TND. She said when safe sex is
talked about, consent is included in that definition or needs to be
included. This means STD prevention, pregnancy and other resources
should also be added.
this seems like Basic 101 Sex Ed, it’s one topic that bears
repeating over and over.
don’t just have CARE to help them learn about STD prevention and
safe sex. CARE-affiliated group, Sexual Health and Assault Peer
Educators puts together campus talks about sexual assault and health.
Prochaska is a communication sophomore who is a part of the program’s
executive board. She said SHARE is committed to giving students the
education they need to stem the rise of STIs. She also said this is
done through presentations that note what each infection is, how
students are tested, the possible treatments and preventative
measures they can take.
is also working with the University to offer a free STD testing day
with its current programs.
said the CARE and SHARE programs help students recognize the need of
safe sex, but it’s the University’s fault for not doing a better
job of addressing the different resources students can take advantage
of. They’re not clear, she said, which makes it hard to know where
students can turn if they were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted
Fiedler said people should know where to go to get help and treatment.
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