Vanderbilt Student Health has recently finished collecting their STD/STI data for the past year. Their numbers show that the most prevalent STD/STI is chlamydia among both the graduate and undergraduate student body.
While the rates of chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea have climbed nationally for the fourth year in a row, the rate at Vanderbilt has been steady over the past few years with no notable inflections. The rates are based on voluntary student testing at Student Health.
“Nationwide, there are many factors for the rise, including inadequate screening and treatment, poverty and poor access to healthcare, among other reasons, “ said Vanderbilt Zerfoss Student Health Center Medical Director Dr. Louise Hanson. “The Student Health Center continues to encourage all students to use condoms during sexual activity. We are also very aggressive about screening measure and follow all national guidelines for screening. We have also tried to reduce financial barriers for care as well.”STD Graphics
Recently, ConsumerSafety.org released information warning people about the development of superbugs, which are antibiotic resistant infections that are currently affecting 23,000 people in the U.S. The three most prominent strains are gonorrhea, staph, and bacterial pneumonia/meningitis.
Additionally, an entirely new type of infection called mycoplasma genitalium (MG) has caught the organizations attention. The infection often occurs with gonorrhea without expressing symptoms and cannot be treated with antibiotics. However, Dr. Hanson would not classify MG as a superbug, since all infections can eventually become more resistant, including MG.
“All STDs, especially chlamydia, can be asymptomatic and chlamydia is far more common than MG, “ said Dr. Hanson. “However, the good news is that [MG] is currently susceptible to many common antibiotics that we use to treat STD symptoms. At the current time, the CDC does not recommend routine screening for MG. The Student Health Center follows the CDC guidance on these matters.”
Students can monitor their own sexual health and receive resources and guidance at Vanderbilt Student Health, the Margaret Cunningham Women’s Center, Project Safe and Vandy Sex Ed.
“Sexually active adults should use condoms for sexual activity,” said Dr. Hanson. “Sexually active adults should get screening at least annually and should make sure they are up to date on vaccines that protect against infection that can be sexually transmitted (HPV and Hepatitis B). Men who have sex with men should also have the Hepatitis A vaccine.”
Student Health offers both birth control options and STD/STI testing. A list of their specific services and costs can be found here.
Additionally, the Women’s Center provides free external and internal condoms, silicone and water based lubricants, dental dams and pregnancy tests. They can be found in a fishbowl in the center’s lobby and bathroom, located off of Westside Row. They also provides instructions on condom application and information on birth control, emergency contraceptives, STIs, kink and BDSM, and sex toys- all available through their website.
“I think many students don’t know about the resources the women’s center offers- and that it’s not just for women” said Women’s Center Intern junior Bailey Henegan. “I think its different [from other resources on campus] because of the extent of resources that we have, like free pregnancy tests and female condoms, latex/non-latex external condoms, and dental dams.”
While resources may seem prevalent on campus, not all students feel comfortable accessing them and taking full advantage.
“I think the access to sexual health resources is great, but I think there’s definitely a stigma when it comes to accessing these resources,” junior Matthew Seck said.