BY: Jessica Radesco-Verdi
Like most other colleges in the U.S., sexually transmitted disease is still a disturbing issue of concern for administration and those affected here at SCCC. This escalating problem is having a devastating impact financially and medically on NYS and its young adults.
According to Center for Disease Control, there are 19 million new infections each year and nearly 50 percent of them are among 15-24 year olds. Many of these individuals do not know they are infected due minimal or lack of symptoms associated with many STD’s.
Despite public service announcements, access to information via internet, and anonymous testing STD rates are still rising. One reason is the embarrassment or stigma that goes along with having to request a test. Some may feel they will be judged or ridiculed leaving them to ignore suspicion or asking questions. Luckily with the help of the internet people are able to peruse health sites or ask questions on forums giving them some anonymous assistance or insight. However, inaccurate or erroneousness material is also posted online and shouldn’t replace medical attention.
More importantly there still is the problem of not receiving proper treatment for an infection which is dangerous and can lead to infertility or sterility. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea constitute for the two most commonly reported infectious diseases each year, especially among women. Two attributes of that are women seek medical help more often than do men and these are two of three diseases that are required by law to be reported to the CDC from physician/medical professionals (Syphilis is the third). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes do not need to be reported.
Here at SCCC, the health office assists students seeking help with sexually transmitted diseases and other various issues. Registered Nurse Agnes Hahn in Ammerman campus’ health office states that though they don’t test on premises for STDs, they will refer students to outside resources in the community.
The office is staffed with RN’s and one physician, and offer a plentitude of reading materials on this and other subject matters. “I would say 18-25 years old is the age range of most students seeking testing” claimed Hahn. When asked if these individuals were predominantly male or female, she replied “pretty equal mix”.
The goal is for those sexually active, on campus and off, to be safe but unfortunately the risks of unprotected sex are not deterrence for all. Therefore programs and resources need to be available such as Suffolk County’s Legislature 2010 budget review which specifies the ‘transfer of one Public Health Nurse I from the Public Health Nursing Bureau to Public Health Partner Notification to manage the increasing STD problem in Suffolk County’.
According to CDC data and statistics, in Suffolk County alone there were a combined total of 69,502 reported cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Syphilis (per 100k people) in 2008 amongst 15-24 year olds. Chlamydia accounted for 59,354 of those cases; this exemplifies how it’s the most widespread STD in the United States. Per 100,000 population, NYS Dept. of Health records Suffolk County exceeding both Oswego and Cortland Counties combined in the 20-24 age group for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis in males and females.
Suffolk has increased in all three STDs from 2006-2008. One possible explanation for Suffolk’s large numbers in this demographic could be that its home to more than 16 public and private colleges. Home testing kits now sold in stores could also have an effect on stats as well, by not having to disclose results to officials. To gain control of this growing problem NYS’ total federal STD funding was $11,216,285 but rising testing and treatment costs and prevention tactics are attacking the allowance.
This has led to innovative methods of awareness, as reported by the New York Post. Some New York City public high schools started a $1 million prevention and education program to reach the 15-19 age group which make up for one out of three Chlamydia cases in NYC. Treating and educating this age group could have profound impacts on the drastically high rising 19-24 age group.
The CDC recognizes April as STD awareness month and to promote this they have formed a website with numerous resources from putting a widget on your web page for locating a list of HIV test centers to viewing fact sheets on STDs. Since targeting the young adult demographic is key to decreasing the spread, MTV, the Kaiser Family foundation along with Planned-Parenthood and others have joined together to spread the word with the Get Yourself Tested campaign-GYT.
If you or someone you know would like to GYT get yourself tested below are some resources: SCCC Health Office: Agnes Hahn, R.N., Geraldine A. Keane, R.N. Location and Directions Kreiling Hall 106 Phone (631) 451-4047 E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Inc. Patchogue Medical Center 631-475-5705 Fax: 631-289-6484 Farmingville Health Center FREE ANONYMOUS testing 851-3650 Contact your local health dept. 1-800-227-8922