Life&Style Writer Lydia Waller discusses the government's new agreement to make civil partnerships available to heterosexual couplesWritten by Lydia Waller on 19th November 2018
The Ins and Outs of STIs
Life&Style Editor Sophie Kesterton gives the lowdown on the dangers of unprotected sex at university
According to Fresh Student Living, 25% of university freshers will catch a Sexually Transmitted Infection. This indicates that (at least) 25% of freshers will not practice safe sex, while some others will probably be unsafe but just get lucky (in both senses of the expression) and avoid contracting any STIs. In fact, Fresh Student Living confirms this, reporting on a Student Room survey which found that 63% of sexually active students admit to having unprotected sex, however more than half of said percentage have never been tested for sexually transmitted infections.
There are so many incentives to use proper protection, yet still so many do not bother with it. As a result, according to the most recent NHS findings, young people aged 16 to 24 account for:
- 63% of chlamydia cases
- 55% of gonorrhoea cases
- 52% of genital warts cases
- 42% of herpes cases
And those figures are before we take into account the hundreds of people who are living their lives completely unaware that they have an STI – a staggering 25% of people with HIV are unaware that they are carrying the disease. As HIV and many other STIs do not always show any symptoms, it is easy to see why this is the case. This can then create a knock-on effect, as oblivious carriers will not know to take extra precautions so will likely pass it on to any sexual partners they have. And so the cycle continues.
“63% of sexually active students admit to having unprotected sex, however more than half of said percentage have never been tested for sexually transmitted infections
The figures from the NHS and Fresh Student Living raise the question of why so many sexually active students are not taking precautions. ‘Safe sex’ is a phrase that is thrown around a lot, but perhaps the problem is that many people are not clear about its meaning and, crucially, the severity of the potential consequences of being ‘unsafe’.
As students, while there are many things on our agendas, sex undoubtedly nears the top of the list for many people. But, ironically, it is one of the most taboo subjects out there. Talking about it too much or too openly brands you as ‘promiscuous’ or ‘overly sexualised’, while staying clear of the topic labels you the equally undesirable ‘prude’ or ‘frigid’ - or perhaps talking about it in terms of safety and protection makes you boring and unadventurous. So at an age where sex is very commonplace, but talking about sex can be anything from mildly awkward to permanently scarring – it is difficult to imagine how our generation is supposed to even come close to being properly informed about the risks and sensitivities surrounding sex. Given this paradox we find ourselves in, the figures stated above are hardly surprising.
“Talking about it too much or too openly brands you as ‘promiscuous’ or ‘overly sexualised’, while staying clear of the topic labels you the equally undesirable ‘prude’ or ‘frigid’
Therefore, it is important to raise awareness of other places to get help. For reliable information about sexual health, you can consult:
- The Family Planning Association (FPA)
- NHS sexual health website
- Rise Above
- National Sexual Health Helpline – 0300 123 7123
To get tested for an STI, you can:
- Make an appointment with your GP
- Visit a Genitourinary (GUM) clinic
- Order a self-test kit from Umbrella Health or the Terrence Higgins Trust
Locations in Birmingham to get help:
- University Medical Practice
- Whittall Street Clinic
- Boots the Chemist, High Street
- Hawthorne House in Heartlands Hospital