STDs More Common in Arkansas
Statistics show sexual diseases are becoming more common in Arkansas.
“We see students come into Pat Walker [Health Center] from time to time concerned with whether they might have a sexually transmitted disease,” said Mary Alice Serafini, executive director of the center. “Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease we see on the UA campus.”
Arkansas ranks seventh in the nation for chlamydia, fifth for gonorrhea and third for syphilis, according to the Averting HIV and AIDs website.
Approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year, half of these being in people 15 to 24 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
While condoms lower the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, they do not guarantee complete protection.
Cervarix and Gardasil are two preventative vaccines recommended for females between the ages of 13 and 26, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Gardasil is recommended for males aged 9 to 26 years.
Gardasil is offered at Pat Walker Health Center for $150 per shot.
Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea is offered at Pat Walker for $32. Testing for other diseases is available at an additional charge.
“Results of the tests can be determined during the time of the appointment,” Serafini said. “Most of the tests are done in a laboratory on campus, making it very convenient in getting back results quickly.”
Any infections diagnosed at the health center can also be treated there, Serafini said.
One in four college students have an STD. Human Papillomavirus is the number one STD on college campuses, according to a nursing schools website.
There are 40 types of Human Papillomavirus, affecting the mouth, throat and genital areas of both males and females, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.
The disease can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. An average of 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
Approximately 20 million Americans have HPV, and an estimated 6 million more will be diagnosed with the disease each year. Half of sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point in their life.
Besides basic testing for the diseases, Pat Walker Health Center offers classes and events to inform students about the risks.
“We offer a one-hour-credit class called Human Sexuality,” Serafini said.
Pat Walker also offers a promotion emphasizing the importance of getting tested and treated.
“Different Resident Student Organizations request informational sessions in which medical providers and members of the Pat Walker staff provide workshops on sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.
“We often find that students need to be informed on these types of diseases,” Serafini said. “Students sometimes think it could never happen to them, but after gaining information, they often realize they need to be tested.”