KSU sex study has ‘alarming’ results

Kelly Pickerel

The majority of students believe that sexually transmitted infections are important issues, but according to a new study, only 30 percent of sexually active students at Kent State regularly use condoms during sexual intercourse.

“The results were alarming but not surprising,” said Kent State graduate Heather Pavlich, who conducted the survey.

Last semester, Pavlich conducted a study of undergraduate students’ feelings about sex and sexually transmitted infections. She and her colleagues, Amy Thompson and William Antil, surveyed 421 students from randomly selected classes and found an array of answers.

“Students do not perceive themselves at risk of sexually transmitted infections,” said Pavlich, a December graduate with a masters degree in public health.

Melisa Zimmerman, junior ceramics major, said she wasn’t surprised.

“I think people are careless, especially when alcohol is involved,” she said.

Pavlich also discovered that most students are unfamiliar with important issues in sexual education. The majority of survey respondents stated they had not received any information on campus about avoiding AIDS or HIV infection.

Matthew Henderson, second-year graduate student in musicology, said he has not seen information out there.

“On AIDS Awareness Week, there were fliers everywhere, but other than that, I haven’t seen anything,” Henderson said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proper and consistent use of condoms can greatly reduce a person’s risk of acquiring or transmitting STIs.

Dianne Kerr, Pavlich’s advisor and health education professor at Kent State, said this information is available on campus, but students are not taking advantage of it.

“I feel that students have basic awareness, but they do not personalize the risk of contracting HIV or other STIs,” Kerr said. “It is the classic ‘it will not happen to me’ attitude. Students feel invulnerable to these infections, although one in four of them contract an STI annually.”

Pavlich suggested that Ohio improve its safer-sex education and said she recommends expanding safer-sex programs on campus, with a possible required course in sexual education.

Kerr said she agrees that today’s youth is not getting appropriate sexuality education. She would like Kent State to require students to take a human sexuality course, which is currently offered as an elective.

“While Ohio state law says that we must ’emphasize abstinence,’ we can and should do this as part of a more comprehensive sexuality education program that includes information about safer sex and STI prevention,” Kerr said.

For more information on safer sex practices or on STI awareness, students can visit DeWeese Health Center or contact Kerr in the College of Education in White Hall.

Contact news correspondent Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].