Sexual health matters

The University of Southern Mississippi’s campus is itching with sexually transmitted infections according to Ashley Threatt, health educator and assessment officer at USM.

“Chlamydia and gonorrhea are probably the most common STIs we have on campus that we do find in people who come to get screened,” she said. “It’s very easily spread.”

Data from the Mississippi State Department of Health has Miss.  ranked second in the nation in chlamydia cases in 2011. In 2012, the hospitality state reported 23,062 chlamydia infections, with Forrest County housing the fourth highest number of infections.

In regard to prevention, Threatt said the clinic won’t teach abstinence.

“People are going to have sex,” she said. “We can educate them on how to protect themselves, but the responsibility relies solely on the students’ shoulders.”

Maintaining healthy eating habits and exercising regularly has been proven to prevent many diseases, but sexually transmitted diseases aren’t one. Understanding sexual health can play a key role in having an enjoyable and healthy sex life.

According to the World Health Organization, sexual health is more than the absence of an infection. It defines sexual health as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality.”

While there are other factors to consider besides infections, the need to educate students on sexual health is still present.

According to Threatt, a big concern is unsafe sexual practices, like partaking in sexual activities while under the influence of alcohol.

Muhammad Javed, junior biological sciences student, agrees alcohol is a big contributing factor when it comes to sexual health in college, but believes “sex is free and free flowing.”

“I don’t think it should be disturbed unless there’s a major problem going around,” he said. “Let kids live and love while they can.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports almost 50 percent of the 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases each year are amid people age 15 to 24.