Students need to practice safer sex

Elise Franco

One in two sexually active persons will contract a sexually transmitted disease by age 25.

According to the American Social Health Association, this is a fact. It is also why Sarah Hallsky, graduate assistant in the office of health promotion, said students need more education about their sexual health.

“I think the general attitude of students is, ‘It won’t happen to me,'” she said. “It’s not that they don’t understand the severity of STI’s, they just don’t think they are at risk.”

Hallsky said college students fall into the age group most at risk, because they generally engage in higher risk behavior. The National College Health Assessment, which is a survey given randomly to Kent State students every few years, reported college students change partners more often and have a lower rate of condom usage.

“Oral sex isn’t safe sex either, unless there is some type of barrier. Infections can still be spread by a males or females,” Hallsky said.

Because of this, DeWeese Health Center and the office of health promotion are doing more to provide students with the information they need to make smart decisions.

“The health center does a ton of awareness programs throughout the year,” she said. “We do free, anonymous HIV testing, interactive programs, where we hand out condom kits filled with information about safer sex, Internet resource information, test site locations and, of course, condoms.”

Hallsky said the best online resource is a Web site called The site is run by Columbia University, and readers are able to submit any question they can think of with a guaranteed 24-hour response time.

Those in need of immediate answers can browse through the hundreds of questions, with topics ranging from fitness and nutrition to sexual health and relationships.

A typical question from the site goes something like this:” Dear Alice, I have been seeing my boyfriend for four weeks. He has told me all about his past relationships. Is it safe to stop using condoms now? Signed, One at a Time?”

Hallsky’s response to a question like this is more or less exactly the same as the response “Alice” gave her reader.

Just because two people are in a monogamous relationship doesn’t mean it is necessarily safe to stop using condoms, Hallsky said.

“A high percentage of people with an STI don’t even show symptoms, so they never get checked,” she said. “When they have unprotected sex they could be unknowingly transmitting whatever disease they have.”

The health center is not the only facility trying to stress the importance of STD awareness. Kent Interhall Council, which is located in Tri-Towers, hosts a program called Sextoberfest each October.

John Machingo, director of programming for KIC, said “Sextoberfest isn’t just focused on STDs. It’s a program based on complete sexual awareness.”

KIC works with the Women’s Health Center and Planned Parenthood as well.

“We also have a basket full of free condoms for students to take,” he said. “We just got them in for Sextoberfest though, so they haven’t been out yet, but students will be able to find them at the front desk.”

One of Hallsky’s two main concerns are students feeling too embarrassed or afraid to talk about STDs with their partner or even their friends.

“Communication with your partner is so important,” she said. “You always have the right to insist on using protection, and if he or she says no, then you always have the right to get dressed and leave.”

Her second concern is students not wanting to get tested regularly.

“We are trying to make STD testing more routine so students do it every year instead of only if they think they might have something,” Hallsky said. “Our nurses and nurse practitioners are very compassionate people, and nothing is shocking. They won’t be like, ‘Oh my god!’ if you have chlamydia or something.

“It’s completely confidential, so no one is going to know why you are there. It won’t say, ‘You have an STD,’ across your forehead when you walk in.”

Contact general assignment reporter Elise Franco at [email protected].