College is often a time for hooking up and getting down. You’re
an adult now, and you can do what you want. But that doesn’t mean
that you can do what you want indiscriminately.
The most important rule of sexual health is a very simple
one to follow: protect yourself. This doesn’t mean just carrying condoms
or being on the pill. This means not getting so drunk that you don’t
know what you’re doing. It means knowing the person you’re hooking
up with, and knowing what your boundaries are and how to enforce
them. No is a complete sentence. So is We have to use a condom.
Between 20 and 25 percent of college students will be infected
with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). There are some nasty
bugs out there that you definitely want to avoid, such as chlamydia,
gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, herpes, hepatitis B,
and bacterial vaginosis. Some of these illnesses can be treated
with antibiotics, while others, like herpes, are viruses that will
be with you forever.
One in every five hundred college students is HIV positive. HIV
is a potentially fatal virus that can be transmitted through sexual
contact and causes the AIDS virus. When someone is infected, they
may be symptom-free for many years and not even realize they are
HIV positive. You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have
HIV. To protect yourself, always use a condom when you have sex.
Be smart and don’t put yourself at risk, no matter what your partner
says to convince you otherwise.
If you’re sexually active, get an HIV test regularly and
make sure your partners have been tested recently. HIV tests are easy,
confidential, and can save your life. There’s no excuse not to get
More than 31 percent of college students report that they’ve been
pregnant or have gotten someone pregnant. Your health center should
be able to provide you with birth control options, or you can always
use the best form of birth control—the word no.