- STIs, Sex and the Student.
It has been noted that STIs are on an alarming rise in our higher institutions. A study conducted a while ago at the University of Abuja showed that 70% of the participants harboured an STI.
We can assume that 3 in every five students have or have—at some point—had a sexually transmitted infection.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites that are transmitted through unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) and skin to skin genital contact.
While Gonorrhea is the most prevalent STI in Nigeria, others include; Hepatitis A, B and C; Herpes, Syphilis, HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), and the oga—HIV. It is only the oga because it scares the bejeezus out of students, but I believe they are all equally threatening.
Asides sexual intercourse, STIs are contacted through various means that facilitate exchange of body fluids such as sharing contaminated needles, blades and sharp objects, and even kissing. Anal sex is recorded to be significantly riskier than other forms of sexual intercourse.
5 Ways of Avoiding Sexually Transmitted Infections:
Be Informed. While a lot of us romanticize the ‘ignorance is bliss’ cause, let us remember that ignorance is also a disease on it’s own. People have died from illnesses they didn’t know existed! Research and know what you’re exposed to by your activities. I once had a friend tell me that HIV was invented by the white man to keep us celibate and it is only a rumor, not a real disease. What?! The fact that an educated individual would hold such an opinion in this day and age is very disturbing.
Take necessary precautions. You’re aware, well informed and armed with knowledge of your possible threats; the next step is to skirt them like a pro on the dancefloor. Do not share sharp objects; clippers, razors, hair needles, pins and syringes. Be assertive, try to determine the state of a person’s health before having a romp in the hay, and even then, use a condom!
Practice safe sex. Even though it falls under precautions, safe sex is a practice that cannot be over emphasized. Until you can attest to the state of a person’s health with a medical report, never assume that the coast is clear. Condoms go a long way to prevent STIs and other undesirables during sex. Ladies, don’t be ashamed to carry a condom—male or female—around if you’re sexually active. I think guys have mastered that art and we should too. Safety is more important than moral/societal constructs.
Avoid having casual sex with strangers, sex workers or multiple partners. These are surefire ways to get a microbial attaché. We cannot assume that you are the only sexual partner of your multiple partners! How much more sloppy can one get with health?! I listened to a man freak out over a Hepatitis C result some months ago in the laboratory, and he wailed about how he wasn’t sure who he might’ve gotten it from and who he might’ve given it to already. I still cringe at the picture it painted.
Abstinence: Don’t roll your eyes, it is not a totally ridiculous concept. I mean, if you’re going to avoid getting bitten during a hunt, try not hunting! Abstinence is the only foolproof method of avoiding STIs at the moment and ‘hard’ as it sounds to the sexually active student, it’s doable.
NB: Oral contraceptives, injections and antibiotics do not prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted infections.
Common Symptoms of STIs
Abnormal genital discharge
Rashes and sores in the genital or anal area
Swollen lymph glands (in the groin or armpits)
Burning sensation while urinating
Bleeding after intercourse.
Sudden fever and flu-like symptoms.
NB: These symptoms may appear alone or in combination.
Early Detection, Treatment and Control.
If you’re experiencing any of the listed symptoms, it is advised that you go for a laboratory STI testing. Many sexually transmitted infections can be treated with antibiotics or antivirals. If left untreated, infections can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, cancer, chronic liver conditions, pregnancy complications, and birth defects. Nothing trumps early detection. Contrary to popular belief, what you dont know CAN and—given a chance—WILL kill you. Even the much dreaded HIV is easy to control once detected early. Don’t sit on your behind, confirm your health status today.
If you’re infected with an STI, it’s not a death sentence. Get medical care, eat healthy and keep your sexual partner(s) in the loop.
Written By Gabriella