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Sexually Transmitted Infections Overview

In an effort to help preserve the well-being of the Ohio University community, the content of this site provides answers to frequently asked questions about sexually transmitted infections (STI's) and the University's response to it.

What are STIs?

STIs are infections spread through sexual contact, most often through semen, blood, or vaginal excretions.

How common are STIs?

Every year, more than 19 million new cases of STIs arise in the United States. By age 25, an estimated one in two sexually active young people will contract an STI, but most won't know it, according to Get Yourself Tested (GYT), a national campaign to inform young people about STIs and promote testing and treatment.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for contracting an STI.

Are STIs treatable?

All STIs are treatable, and many are curable, according to GYT.

Delaying care for an STI can have long-term and sometimes irreversible health consequences, such as infertility, increased risk of cancer, or even death. Having an STI also makes you more susceptible for contracting HIV and other STIs if you have sex with an infected partner.

Will I know if I have an STI?

Since many STIs are asymptomatic, or without noticeable symptoms, testing is the only way to determine whether an infection is present. There is no single test for every STI - tests are specific to each infection, according to GYT.

Your doctor can assist you in determining which STIs you should be tested for. But you need to take the first step - initiating the conversation and asking to be tested.

Where can I learn more about STIs?

POWER, which stands for Promoting Ohio University Wellness, Education and Responsibility, is a nonprofit student advocacy group that seeks to promote awareness of important college health issues, including STIs. Comprising nationally certified peer health educators, POWER meets weekly for POWER Hours at 7 p.m. on Tuesday nights at the Amanda Cunningham Leadership Center on the third floor of Baker University Center.

The group's weekly educational forums include a "Latexology" course, designed to educate students on forms of latex and their proper use to prevent STIs. The group also sponsors annual programming for Romance Responsibility Month in February and HIV/AIDS Awareness Week in May.

Where can I go to be tested?

The Campus Care Clinic, located at 2 Health Center Dr., provides STI testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes, and genital warts. To be tested, visit the clinic during posted hours with a student I.D. or call (740) 593-1660.

Students may also seek testing at Athens Health Center, a division of Planned Parenthood, located at 1005 East State St., Suite W.

How do I prevent STIs?

The most foolproof way to avoid STIs is to abstain from sexual contact. Those who remain sexually active can take responsible precautions.

Wearing a condom is the best prevention to contracting an STI. Birth control pills do not protect from disease.

Although condoms are not 100 percent effective, they dramatically reduce the risk of contracting almost all STIs, provided they are consistently and correctly used.

The risk of contracting an STI is also multiplied with each sexual partner. Those who have sex with many people expose themselves to the possible diseases of each of their partners' partners. Every sexual encounter should be made with careful consideration and communication about each partners' sexual history.

Alcohol and drugs also impair judgment, which can lead to risky sexual encounters and improper use of protection.

What other University resources are available?

Students can also call Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) 24 hours a day/seven days a week at 740-593-1616 to speak with a counselor. Walk-in hours are available from the CPS office in Hudson Heath Center from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. CPS also provides consultation to faculty, administrators, and parents of students.