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This item originally appeared in the December 9, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

With promiscuity at its height, sexually transmitted diseases are hitting college-age people with a vengeance.

According to a recent study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, nearly half of the new STD epidemics in the populous are made up of people 15 to 24 years of age.

One of two sexually active adults will contract an STD by the age of 24, according to the UNC study.

College campuses generally have a clinic close to campus that observes questions such as, "What's that?"

"We really don't have many people come in with STD scares; most go to Lincoln Health Clinic," Paige Pickett, Tech's health unit director, said.

Annie Rhodes, the director of infection control at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, said, "Nationwide there is a five to 10 percent chance [those teenagers] have an STD."

"Louisiana is No. 1 in STDs nationwide, and the epidemic is getting worse," Rhodes said.

Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, hepatitis A, B and C, HIV, syphilis and other STDs that affect all campuses, Rhodes said.

"[The number of people infected with] STDs has grown to such an epidemic proportion in Louisiana that clinics spend so much time treating that they have a hard time starting prevention," she said.

Treatment of diseases in a clinical environment consists of giving antibiotics and other aids, though some diseases have no cure, Rhodes said.

Lincoln Parish Health Clinic does not perform free check-ups for STDs, but those who visit the clinic with symptoms will be given a prognosis by a physician, Pickett said.

According to the Office of Public Health in 2001, the national rate of gonorrhea infection was 128.5 per 100,000 people and Louisiana's was 274.2, which is twice the national average.

"Abstinence is the best policy to prevent gonorrhea and other STDs, and if sex is imminent, condoms can reduce the risk of infection greatly," Rhodes said.

Ruston and Tech are not immune to these problems. In 2003, it was reported that Lincoln Parish had greater than 4 percent of its population, including students, infected with syphilis, according to the Louisiana Office of Public Health.

Sexually active college students should perform preventive methods during sexual encounters, Pickett said.

"If you have symptoms like discharge, burning sensations, sensitivity and others you should be checked out right away," Pickett said.

Tech offers counseling services and awareness seminars about STDs to educate the campus.

Robert Burt, Tech counselor and coordinator of the Student Speaker's Bureau, said, "The Students Speakers Bureau speaks to freshmen during a seminar on awareness of STDs and gives up-to-date statistics on infection. Questions about STDs can be answered in the Counseling Center [Keeny Hall, Room 316] and pamphlets on STDs are available in the hall."

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