Why YOUR Sexual Health Matters!
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by organisms (bacteria, viruses, or parasites) that spread from person to person during sex or intimate contact. Transmission of STIs typically results from unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex, although some may be transmitted through skin-on-skin contact.
All people, regardless of age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation are at risk of contracting STIs, however, young adults aged 15-24 are at particularly high risk and account for the majority of cases. Undergraduate students, who fall directly within this age category, unsurprisingly contribute to 53% of all gonorrhea and 65% of all chlamydia cases.
Though significant, this trend of increased STI prevalence amongst university students is nothing new. Behaviours characteristic of university students such as sporadic barrier use, multiple partners, substance abuse and lack of knowledge on STI transmission are conducive STI contraction risk and have contributed to high STI rates on university campuses for decades.
If this trend has been known for so many years, why is it that curable STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea continue to rise on university campuses? The syphilis contraction rate alone increased by 35% from 2015 to 2016 amongst young American females. Some argue that the lack- or inappropriate timing of sexual health education amongst young adults fosters the development of unsafe sexual practices that lead to STI transmission.
Those of us who were even lucky enough to receive sex ed of any kind likely received it middle school as young teenagers. Perhaps we who did were even lucky enough to get a laugh out of the classic grade 7 gym teacher putting a condom on a banana maneuver. Even if we were amongst those lucky few, the argument is that receiving sexual education in grades 7-8, though valuable, risks falling on deaf ears and that by the time we become sexually active, we have forgotten the valuable information we once learned.
Such reasons as to why students may engage so frequently in unsafe sexual behaviour is an interesting topic for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is the sheer fact that as university students, we are at statistically significant higher risks of contracting an STI. That being said, we can take greater control of our sexual health and reduce our risk by educating ourselves on safe sexual practices as well as the signs and symptoms of common STIs (see provided chart).
Kingston’s students, we are fortunate to have access to various sexual health resources on and near campus which provide services such as sexual health education and counseling, as well as STI testing and are listed below. We encourage you to take a moment and explore the resources in order to familiarize yourself with the sexual health services available to you.
(1) The LaSalle Building on Campus
Location: 146 Stuart Street
Description and Services: Health counseling and accessibility services on campus. Primary healthcare including health-promotion, intake-crisis counseling, cross-cultural counseling, and STI testing. Physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors. Coordinates and provides services to students with disabilities.
Phone: (613) 533-2506
(2) The Kingston Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC)
Location: JDUC Room 223
Description and Services: This on-campus centre is a confidential, non-judgemental, sex-positive, pro-choice, queer-positive, non-heterosexist information and referral service for any question’s students may have regarding sex, sexuality and sexual health. The center is staffed by trained volunteers who are knowledgeable about safer sex products and toys offered at the center.
Phone Number: (613) 533-2959